Young widows of Kashmir toil hard to make a living

SRINAGAR: Self help is helping some of the widows in occupied Kashmir to earn a livelihood for themselves and their families as most of the young women whose husbands were killed during the last two decades of strife are toiling hard to feed their families and to educate their children. What they want is a little bit of guidance, some raw material and a place to market their produce. Some social workers provide them the raw material and help them in marketing the finished goods.

Amina, 35, resident of Qalamdanpora earns a living by working as a seamstress. Her husband, Riyaz Ahmad Wani, who drove an auto-rickshaw was, she said, killed by Special Operation Group (SOG) in Bemina on December 22, 1999. Left without any financial support she was desperate to find some work, which she could do. A social worker Abdul Qayoom, provided her some raw material and she started working. After her products are ready, he helps her in marketing them.

Qayoom says that first he identifies the women in need and then he tries to figure out what kind of work would suit her or them. “If they know some skills, fine, otherwise, I impart them basic training and then provide them the required raw material,” Qayoom said. Once their goods are ready, I help them in marketing those goods, he said, generally, we focus on the local products like oil, spices, beans, honey etc.

“Our thrust is on quality. I want more and more people to support them so that they are able to earn a decent living,” Qayoom said. Shakeela, 42, works as artisan in Pashmina work and looks after her three children. Her husband, Manzoor Ahmad Shah was a businessman and died in August, 2008 as he was suffering from bone cancer.

“After his death I was unable to decide what to do. Later, Qayoom approached me and suggested me the ways to earn a living. The idea struck me and I went ahead,” says Shakeela.
Raja in her mid-seventies lost her son, Mohammad Shafi Dar who disappeared on May 23, 1990. Even FIR number 14 dated 4-6-2000 has been filed one year back. She had filed a case in the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) that was disposed off and ex-gratia relief was granted in her favour.

Raja, 32, works as artisan. Her husband, Altaf Ahmad Bhat, who was a tailor went missing on March 19, 2001. Food and her children’s education are her urgent needs. Fancy’s husband Fayaz Ahmad Malik was murdered, she says, for some business rivalry at Amritsar on 18 June, 2000.

Left with three daughters to look after Fancy herself is a heart patient but she works hard to keep the pot boiling at her home. Hamida, 45, a resident of Fateh Kadal, earns her living by chain stitching. Her husband, Ghulam Ahmad Sofi who was labourer was killed in custody.
Shakeela, 38, earns her living by spinning the wheel. Her husand, Ghulam Mohammad Akhoon from Chandipora Jamia Masjid, according to her, was arrested by the troopers and later his body was thrown in Dal Lake.

Her children Zahid and Amina are studying in the government school after they were asked to leave a private educational institution where they could not afford the tuition fees. “I put in all my efforts to earn a living and see that my children receive good education. It is my dream that they achieve something good in their lives,” she said.-SANA

About the author

Rubab Saleem

Rubab Saleem is Editor of Pakistan Times

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