"Clicked my Photograph and Blackmailed me"- Stories of Growing Harassment Young Girls Face

"Clicked my Photograph and Blackmailed me"- Stories of Growing Harassment Young Girls Face in Kashmir 

Clicked my Photograph and Blackmailed me

The recent data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) revealed that Jammu Kashmir has recorded a 15% increase in cognisable crimes in 2020 as compared to 2019.

Cases of women being subjected to eve-teasing and stalking may have witnessed a sharp rise in the Kashmir valley, but we do not talk about it. Very few instances have been reported where women have had to go through harassment in various public spheres, as well.

Among those women is Nazia (name changed), a student of 12th class from north Kashmir's Baramulla district, who narrated her ordeal of the past seven months to The Kashmiriyat.

"One day, I was having tea in a vacant class when a boy came and started talking to me. He left, immediately but I didn't realise that he also took pictures of me," she said.

Nazia added that on the following day, the boy came to her again and threatened her by saying, "Look, I will upload your photos if you don't act as I say. He blackmailed me."

"I begged him. I asked him to leave me alone but he didn't pay any heed to my pleas. Finally, I gave him some money. I had not other option," said Nazia.

"But ever since, he has constantly blackmailed me. He would come back any day and take money from me," she added.

Clicked my Photograph and Blackmailed me

"After about two weeks, I talked about the whole episode to a close friend, but she couldn't believe me, and thought it was some fictional story," Nazia said.

She said that one day, she caught him doing the same with another girl in school premises, itself. He was taking money from the girl's bag. "I tried to see who she was, but couldn't," she said.

Nazia added, "The girl turned out to be my classmate. And I could see now that it's not only me that he was harrassing. He was doing the same to other girls as well. He had made lot of money by threatening them." The girls belonged to various north Kashmir villages, she said.

Another case that The Kashmiriyat came across is that of Irtiqa from an adjacent village of Tehsil Pattan. She revealed that she had gone through similar harassment, a year and a half ago. "One day, last year, our class went for a picnic with our teachers. We enjoyed ourselves and took photos as well. A guy from the class had brought a memory card, into which, he transferred all the data with the intention of misusing it," she said.

Irtiqa added, "It was totally unexpected. The next day I went to school. We were in the school compound and my classmate, Umaid (name changed), teased and threatened me."

"I was not able to understand where things went wrong. The boy who threatened me had edited my photos and showed the morphed photos to my classmates," she added.

Irtiqa added that a classmate came to her and passed a sly comment. "I, somehow, managed to ask him what was it all about, to which he responded by saying that I shouldn't try acting innocent and left," she said.

"I asked him again 'What did I do?' but he had left," she told, also adding," I started crying because it was the first time a classmate, who also happened to be a neighbour, questioned my character."

Clicked my Photograph and Blackmailed me

Irtiqa tells that she went home, immediately, and thought of it the whole day. She says that she also had suicidal thoughts. All of a sudden, her sister barged into her room and asked Irtiqa why had she left school halfway.

"I revealed what all was happening with me since some days. She consoled me and said that she'd talk to the guy from the neighborhood," Irtiqa said.

"Once, during the practical exams of class 12th, the morning assembly was about to begin," she said, adding, "He came again, clicked photos of me and told me that he would ruin my career. I cried and called a teacher but he hid the phone before the teacher arrived. The teacher, instead, said to me that the guy didn't have any mobile phone with him and left me alone."

As soon as the practical exam ended, Irtiqa said the boy threatened her again, "Soon, you will watch what I'll do to you. Your photos will be viral on the internet. Your career will be ruined. Who do you think you are?" he added.

"Whenever I think of these words, they pierce me down and break me down," she said.

Another survivor, Sadaf, a girl from the same school, hailing from Sultanpora was also threatened. She said that once she was going back home from school, when two of her classmates started following her.

"They kept on whistling until I knocked on the door of my home. This continued for some days but I kept on avoiding them," she said, adding, "One day, one of those boys came to me and threatened me, but I didn't pay any heed."

"After some days," Sadaf says, "in the school premises, he threatened me and asked me to give him money or I'd have to face dire consequences, he said. I tried not paying attention but I was mentally disturbed. Why would anyone threaten me?"

The sermons of clerics in Kashmir are filled with comments against the growing immorality and women are at target often. Perhaps, the easy and unheard victim is the women of our society. We hardly hear men being accused of the growing crimes in the society. Every such video of women being accused goes viral over social media.

If someday we speak to the women inside our house, they would tell us how difficult is it for women, even those who wear a Burqa and Hijab to move out of there house as there always are boys waiting to chase them, no matter how far they walk.

Incidents like that of Sadaf, Irtiqa and Nazia may not be in limelight or discussed, mainly because of the social stigma. However, we all at the bottom of our hearts know that this is an everyday reality of the Kashmir, we have nurtured for us and for our future generations.

Originally published at http://thekashmiriyat.co.uk


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