2018 Women’s Conference


The Kashmir Council-EU organised its annual Women’s Conference, to mark 2018 International Women’s Day. The Conference took place in the European Parliament with the support of MEPs Wajid Khan, Julie Ward and Sajjad Karim. The theme of the meeting was: “PTSD: a woman’s battle in conflict zones”.

The aim of the Conference was to explore the need for mental health counselling and therapy for women suffering from PTSD as a result of trauma. Mental health disorders and psychosocial problems arising from conflict need to be addressed as part of post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation efforts. The non-resolution of the dispute keeps the people of Jammu and Kashmir in a paralyzing limbo, having to cope with occupation by an overwhelming military force, with brutal violence by both state and nonstate actors, with impunity for perpetrators of crimes like rape and torture, with fear and mutual distrust in civil and political society and with deep painful feelings of humiliation vis-à-vis powers responsible for (prolonging) the status quo.

This political and social-psychological context of the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir has a specific impact on women’s daily life. For many women, it dramatically frustrates their personal and public-exposure, freedom of movement and opportunities for self-development. Widows and half widows have to cope with the loss or unknown fate of their husbands, mothers of disappeared partners or sons seek truth and justice while trying to cope with uncertainty and economic poverty, women who are raped or harassed are dramatically wounded physically and psychologically, and even more, often also socially outcasted.

Mental healthcare, maternity care, lack of gender-specific psychological help for PTSD and likewise mental health disorders are a serious problem for the many (half)-widows and orphans who are in need of dealing with trauma. Lack of knowledge of risks of bad/insufficient/wrong diet, or indifference to healthy food and physical care (often due to trauma, despair, poverty) negatively affects women’s welfare and often the welfare of their relationship. Fertility problems get unnoticed and their causes (e.g. stress, the effect of trauma) neglected whereas women suffer the risk of social exclusion. Impunity for human rights abuses is a long-standing issue in Jammu and Kashmir. Abuses by security personnel and non-state actors, including awful killings, mass-rape and disappearances, have gone uninvestigated and unpunished to date. The conference report is available on our website via the following link: 2018 Women’s Conference Report