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'Women's Bodies Are Not Battlegrounds': Why Men Searching for 'Kashmiri Brides' Is Deeply Sexist

"Kashmiri women are not spoils of war. They are human beings with agency and the right to consent or not consent."

Reuters

Updated:August 8, 2019, 4:37 PM IST
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'Women's Bodies Are Not Battlegrounds': Why Men Searching for 'Kashmiri Brides' Is Deeply Sexist
"Kashmiri women are not spoils of war. They are human beings with agency and the right to consent or not consent."

Women's rights advocates have slammed a torrent of online posts by men from across India who expressed enthusiasm about marrying women from Kashmir after the government repealed Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir special rights.

"It’s deeply sexist," said Rituparna Chatterjee, an activist writing a book on the #MeToo movement in India. "Women’s bodies have been battlegrounds for men for centuries. The latest comments of Kashmiri women, are only testimony to this fact," she said.

India struck down a constitutional provision on Monday that granted special status to residents of Jammu and Kashmir state, whose population is majority Muslim, including exclusive rights to owning property and getting state government jobs there.

Under the previous rules, women from the state who married outsiders lost those rights, and outsiders couldn't buy property in Kashmir. Now, residents of the state and people from other parts of India will be on an equal legal footing in Kashmir.

As social media was flooded with posts expressing jubilation about the constitutional change, many men among them said on Twitter and the video platform TikTok that this would make it easier for them to marry Kashmiris.

"Congrats India now unmarried boys can marry these smart girls from Kashmir after 370 removal," said one post, referring to the constitutional provision that was struck down. Another said: "Every Indian boy's dream right now: 1. Plot in Kashmir 2. Job in Kashmir 3. Marriage with Kashmiri girl.

Mihira Sood, a Supreme Court lawyer in New Delhi, who specialises in gender issues, called it "objectification of women."

"Kashmiri women are not spoils of war. They are human beings with agency and the right to consent or not consent," she said.

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