|here may be thousands of children who have lost a parent in the Kashmir conflict. To meet the needs of orphans, at least one expert is considering alternatives to orphanages, such as family-based care.|
The conflict in the contested region of Kashmir has taken a toll on many of the region’s orphaned children.
About 60,000 people are thought to have lost their lives in the insurgency that began in 1989 and continued over the early 1990s. Thousands of Kashmiri children have lost a parent in the conflict and single-parent households must often struggle for their survival.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir is located at the northernmost point of India. In 1989, armed resistance from Muslim political parties against Indian rule broke out in the Kashmir Valley. Some groups called for independence, while others for union with Pakistan. Talks continued over the 1990s with the intent to resolve the situation. But, in 1999, the “Kargil Conflict” broke out in Kashmir and along the Line of Control that divided Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir.
Talks and agreements continued in the 2000s, but were derailed by terrorist attacks by Islamic militants from Pakistan in 2008 and election-related tensions. Between 2008 and 2010, 100 people have died in clashes between civilians and security forces. This year however, has seen “an unexpected season of tranquility,” as the New York Times put it this summer.
Today, more social safety nets are needed to protect the parentless victims of the conflict, though some may gain entry into orphanages, which provide for their basic needs. This has a led to a “mushrooming of orphanages” in Kashmir, reports the Greater Kashmir newspaper.
However, the children’s trauma is not always addressed, and they may end up in trouble at school and in their communities. At one school, a mental health counsellor encourages children to express themselves though art therapy. But, even with the help of such schools and institutions, not all children who leave their doors become resilient adults.
According to one study by independent researchers and the Department of Social Work, Aligarh Muslim University and the Awaan Society, institutional rehabilitation for orphaned children isn’t always successful. The study included orphans who had lived in a number of different institutions. After a random sample, it became evident that 90 per cent of the students didn’t pass their 12th class examinations. Other studies have indicated that community-based alternatives to institutional care are more cost-effective and are better for the well-being of the children.A lot of children work 16 hours a day and still don't make enough to feed their young siblings and you can help to provide them at least basic facalities like food and homes.