MIRPUR (AJK) - Like rest of the world, International Women’s Day was observed  in Azad Jammu & Kashmir  on Thursday with the renewal of  pledge to ensure respect and dignity of women folk in all segments of the society.

Special ceremonies including seminars and symposiums were the hallmark of the day observed throughout Azad Jammu Kashmir. The day is observed this day of March 8 every year since the year of 1900 across the globe in the light of the charter under the manifesto of the United Nations to highlight the importance of the women’s role in the society.

Various ceremonies were held in all the 10 districts of AJK with the resolve to maintain equal rights and status of the females who have reached about 51 percent of the total population of the country.

In Mirpur, a grand walk of women, hosted by the State Social Welfare Department was the hallmark of the day. Chief Guest Commissioner Mirpur Division Tayyeb Ch and Deputy Commissioner  Ansar Yaqoob Khan led the walk which passed through major city streets and culminated at the district courts premises.

Several other ceremonies were held to celebrate the day. The ceremony followed by a special programme highlighted the role of women social workers engaged in serving the humanity in different sectors of life on self-help basis. The ceremony was attended by a large number of women representing various segments of the society mostly belonging to the academic sector.

Addressing a special ceremony to mark the day speakers highlighted the role of women in all sections of the society. “No healthy society could emerge without the role of women,” they observed. They said that the role of women in the progress and prosperity and uplift of any nation and the country was primarily imperative in the society.

The day reminds to promote and raise awareness about the equal importance and status of women folk at par with male members. Women’s role could not be set aside.

Talking to reporters, AJK President Sardar Masood Khan said that women of occupied Jammu and Kashmir had borne the brunt of Indian atrocities against the Muslim Kashmiri Population in the past 70 years, especially since 1989.

He highlighted the plight of the women in IOK on the occasion of the International Women’s Day on March 8, the President said that women formed a sizable chunk of 100,000 civilians killed by Indian Occupation forces since January 1989.

In the recent spate of oppression, Indian forces had blinded hundreds of Kashmiris including girls. The gruesome blinding of 16-year-old Insha Mushtaq and 14-year-old Ifra Shakoor has been highlighted internationally.

Dedicating the press conference to the Kashmiri women, the President said that India is guilty of using sexual violence – rape, molestation and murder of women – as an instrument of its aggression as a result of which since 1989 11,000 women have fallen victim to sexual violence in one form or the other.

In a recent shocking incident, Indian security forces abducted, raped and murdered an eight-year-old girl Assifa Bano at Kathua and a 17-year-old girl Saima Wani was killed in cold blood. “In their murderous drive against the Kashmiris, the Indians are not sparing even young mothers with infants,” he added.

 “Sexual violence, rape and molestation are perpetually perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces. Instead of deafening silence, the alarming situation requires action by the United Nations Security Council and the international justice mechanisms, as it is being done in cases of sexual violence in other conflict situations,” he said.

The president said that the Kashmiri widows and mothers are waiting for 8,000 men who were victims of enforced disappearances. This had subjected the Kashmiri population to collective psychological trauma, he said.

He also condemned the killing of 6 innocent Kashmiris in Shopian, in a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions. The victims of these gruesome murders, he said, were not combatants and were not participating in any hostilities.

The Joint Resistance Leadership, he said, had alleged that in pursuance of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act the Indian forces were killing Kashmiris at will and at random.

The President urged the Foreign Office to raise these killings with the International Committee of Red Cross and with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC).

He also briefed the media persons of his recent visit to Europe -UK, Sweden and Italy. The President said, in the present phase following the martyrdom of Burhan Wani, the awareness about the Jammu and Kashmir dispute has become higher and, in some circles, acute. During his visit to Europe, the President met parliamentarians, addressed audiences comprising young students and faculty at Universities, met members of the diaspora community and reached out to the civil society and the media.