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Plight of Kashmiri women highlighted

October 31, 2002

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UNITED NATIONS, Oct 30: Saying that “rape and the humiliation of women and girls has been used as an instrument of war” by Indian security forces in the Indian-occupied Kashmir, Pakistan on Tuesday said that the international community should take appropriate measures to provide help and compensation to these Kashmiri women.

Speaking at a debate in the UN Security Council on “Women and Armed Conflict” Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Munir Akram, urged the United Nations and non-governmental organizations to prepare a survey of the number of such destitute Kashmiri women.

He said: “We urge humanitarian agencies, specially the ICRC (International Red Cross), to act as the instrument and avenue for such relief distribution” underscoring that the “political considerations should not stand in the way of international humanitarian agencies responding to the plight of Kashmiri women and children suffering from the long and bloody conflict in their homeland.”

Akram pointed out that “in the on-going freedom struggle in Jammu and Kashmir also, rape and the humiliation of women and girls has been used as an instrument of war. Human rights organizations testified since 1992 that in Jammu and Kashmir, rape and ill-treatment of women are usually reported to have taken place during counter-insurgency operations by Indian forces.

“Asia Watch and Physicians for Human Rights documented the extensive use of rape by the occupation forces designed to punish and humiliate the entire community.

Amnesty International has reported that harassment, abduction, rape and deliberate and arbitrary killings perpetrated by pro-Indian ‘renegades’ in Kashmir are also carried out with the support of the (Indian) security forces,” Akram added.

Referring to the Security Council’s landmark resolution 1325 on women and armed conflict, Pakistan’s chief delegate said, that the Security Council must strengthen the processes for the observance and implementation of the principles of international humanitarian law and human rights in international conflicts, including those relating to the protection of women.

“We believe the Council must not only ensure prompt and effective responses to crisis situations irrespective of their geographical locations but also avoid selectivity in the implementation of its resolutions.

The Charter contains provisions, including in Chapter VI, which can be utilized for the purpose of promoting implementation of Council resolutions,” he said

Noting that the International Expert Assessment and the Secretary-General’s report on Women in Armed conflict has submitted several relevant proposals to the Council. Akram said that Pakistan further suggests the following measures for the Council’s consideration:

First, adoption of a declaration that the targeting of women, especially the use of rape as an instrument of war, will be considered a war crime, susceptible to national and international punishment;

Second, initiation of a study of recent and ongoing conflict situations to identify crimes committed against women, with a view to seeking redress and compensation for the victims;

Third, current and future UN peacekeeping operations be required to monitor and regularly report to the Security Council on the situation of women and girls in their mission areas;

Fourth, encourage the fullest possible participation of women in peace processes as well in post-conflict peace-building, including in reintegration, reconstruction and rehabilitation of societies in the post-conflict phase.

Fifth, ask the UNs specialized organs and agencies to evolve ways to address the special needs of women and girls affected by conflict including health and psychological care.

Sixth, the Security Council may involve other United Nations bodies, as well as representatives of civil society, perhaps using the Arria Formula, for a comprehensive discussion to promote such recommendations and actions.