The Kunan Poshpora humiliation of Kashmiri Women is reminds us of the pervasive Indian culture of impunity to suppress the long-standing resistance against such atrocities. 26 years ago, on the freezing night of February 23, a battalion of the 4th Rajputana Rifles of the 68th Indian Brigade conducted a cordon and search operation in the adjacent Kunan-Poshpora villages in Kupwara. After cordoning the village and segregating men from womenfolk, the army took the men to nearby fields and locked the women. The women were gang-raped in their homes without any regard for their age and marital status.

Aljazeera ran an investigative story on December 26, 2016; based on research in 2013 by a group of 50 women, including the authors Ifrah Butt and Natasha Rather. They petitioned the Supreme Court of India to re-open the investigations. Since then, a reinvestigation was ordered and the Kashmir High Court ordered that victims be paid compensation. The state government and army have mounted efforts to stop these orders.

Al Jazeera spoke to Ifrah Butt and Natasha Rather who, along with three others, co-wrote a book, ‘Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora?’ published in February 2016. Butt and Rather, both young women in their twenties, spoke about the impact of militarisation on Kashmiri Muslim women and men, political solidarities, about Kashmiri women who inspire, and the issue of self-determination in Kashmir.

The major question being raised is why India has constantly used rape as an instrument of her inhuman policy against the people of Occupied Kashmir, and, when common Indians are daily on streets demanding immediate justice for women who are regularly raped in India, why nobody had sought justice for the Kashmiri women who were raped more than 26 years ago?

The trauma of humiliation, as narrated by Ifrah Butt and Natasha Rather gives us some insight into the plight of Kashmiri women; the rapes were humiliating for the entire Kashmiri community and demoralising. As a result, women were made to cover their faces and wear burqas. Their movement was restricted. But after a point, they had to go out and work because the men were being killed, or were in jail. There are hundreds of half-widows in Kashmir – women whose husbands disappeared. Since the year 2000, more women started working. Now, many own big businesses, boutiques and beauty parlours, and are in the bureaucracy.

The Kashmir State Human Rights Commission in 2012, recommended a compensation of Rs2 lakh each to 34 women petitioners and action against officials who closed the case in 1991. The then Deputy Commissioner Kupwara, SM Yasin, had even said in his report that the “army men behaved like beasts in Kunan Poshpora.”

The trial of the case is going on in the court of chief judicial magistrate (CJM) Kupwara. The CJM, in June last year, dismissed a closure report by the J&K police and had ordered a fresh probe in the case.

Social media activism in Occupied Kashmir has seen a new surge, especially after Burhan Wani Shaheed, the Kashmiri youth is now airing and broadcasting stories of freedom struggle and challenging the Indian Occupation through a soft revolt.

Recently, a short documentary published through YouTube became viral on February 23, 2016. ‘The Ocean of Tears’ is a 2012 Kashmiri short directed by Billal A Jan. The film is a documentary of the crimes and human rights violations imposed on the people of Kashmir, especially on women. The film raises the issue of the mass rape incident of Kunan Poshpora. This short documentary depicts the humiliation suffered by Kashmiri women after Kunan Poshpora tragedy and how they find it difficult to survive in a conservative society after the taboo of being raped; Kunan Poshpura produced broken families, traumatised girls and left a deep scar on the minds of the Kashmiri youth, especially women.

Despite efforts by Pakistan to raise the issue of justified struggle of freedom of Kashmiri people, Indian occupation has lasted 70 years; however, things are changing. The nternational community is getting sensitised on the issue of Kashmir, thanks to active media environment. Aljazeera 101 East telecasted the true picture of Occupied Kashmir as recently as February 9, with the title, ‘Kashmir, born to fight.’ This report by Aljazeera has highlighted the role of youth in taking the struggle to new heights and how they are using social media to air their views.

On February 23 2017, Kashmiris across the globe will be observing the trauma of Kunan Poshpora as Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day. What are our obligations on this day? A few suggestions are listed below.

While Pakistani state has used diplomatic and moral tools to support the cause of Kashmiris, civil society and liberal human rights organisations within Pakistan need to come to the forefront; especially on the issue of using rape as state policy of coercion by Indian occupation forces.

Pakistani civil society should raise this issue to International Human Rights organisations such as UN Women Watch, Amnesty International (who runs a campaign Stop the Violence Against Women Campaign) etc; similarly active organisations and NGOs like Women’s Rights Association Pakistan (WRA) and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) should strive to raise the issue of plight of Kashmiri Women at national and international forums.

Pakistan may also take the case of Kunan Poshpora to International Community through Kashmiri Diaspora living abroad, especially in UK and North America.

In order to display our solidarity to our sisters in Occupied Kashmir, Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day should be given effective media coverage, exposing Indian atrocities and using rape as an instrument of policy against the people of Kashmir.