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Scholars let in a ray of hope for Kashmiri half- widows.

THE lives of half- widows of Kashmir are set to change for the better, with a group of prominent religious scholars on Thursday issuing guidelines stating that such women can remarry after four years of disappearance of their husbands.

Half- widows are the women whose husbands have disappeared in the insurgency- hit state but have not been declared dead.

" At last they decided on something. It doesn't mean that all half- widows will remarry now, but the guidelines brought the issue of half- widows back to focus," said Parveena Ahangar, who heads the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons ( APDP).

According to the APDP, around 8,000 people have been subjected to enforced or involuntarily disappearance in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990, when armed insurgency broke out in the state. The organisation claims most of the people have disappeared during custody.

Officials said the state government has established a screening committee under a government order which says ex- gratia relief can only be accessed by " half- widows" after a period of seven years of disappearance of their husbands.

Now after Thursday's guidelines by Islamic scholars, they said, the committee may have to change the eligibility criteria for awarding compensation.

Can remarry after 4 yrs if hubby doesn't return

The Islamic scholars, comprising Moulana Showkat Hussain Keng ( Patron Anjuman- e Himayatul Islam), Mohammad Saeed- ur- Rehman Shams ( Anjuman e Nusratul Islam J & K) and others, took the decision on Thursday during a third round of consultation over the issue.

" The issue of half- widows has been pending for long and we want to address it. That is why we have held three rounds of meetings over the issue," Moulna Keng said.

Ahangar said that so far only two women among the half- widows have remarried. " Half- widows live in pathetic condition.

Nobody owns them." " Women have devoted their whole life in search of their husbands and taking care of their children. I am not sure they would remarry. But there has to be guidelines to address the issue of remarriage and addressing property and inheritance issues," she said.

In Islamic law ( Shariah), there was no consensus on the marriage of women who are half widows, because there is no special provision for the phenomenon of enforced disappearance.

At last they decided on something.

These guidelines have brought the issue of half- widows back to focus.


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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Dec 27, 2013
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