SRINAGAR – Carving their own future in the midst of turmoil, Kashmir Muslim girls are taking new frontiers for a better place in the society armed with their education and Islam tenets.
"Wearing the hijab doesn't stop you from anything,” student Aasma told the Channel News Asia on Saturday, July 2.
“Being in the society, I don't see myself as a misfit.”
Challenging the status quo ruling many Indian women, Muslims in the northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir are trying to take up education for non-traditional careers.
Unlike other Muslim communities in India, Muslim women in Kashmir have a high degree of educational freedom.
Though living in the volatile valley of Kashmir, young Muslim girls are encouraged to go to schools.
"In fact I see a lot of girls joining me. You feel safe inside,” said Aasma.
“The world is full of so many bad things; you feel like you have accepted something that your Lord asked you to. And I feel like that if can accept this, I can accept anything.”
There are some 140 million Muslims in India, making up 13 percent of the country’s 1.1 billion population.
Indian Muslims have long suffered decades of social and economic neglect and oppression.
They are under-represented in public sector jobs, register lower educational levels and hit by higher unemployment rates.
Kashmir is divided into two parts and ruled by India and Pakistan, which have fought two of their three wars since the 1947 independence over the region.
Pakistan and the UN back the right of the Kashmir people for self-determination, an option opposed by New Delhi.
Fighting for their educational freedom, Kashmiri young girls are encouraged to take up new careers. "No one stops me from doing anything,” Aatira Touqir, a student, said.
Touqir says she gets due encouragement from her parents to reach her dream job of journalism.
“If I go for journalism, which is a very demanding job, my family will support me,” she said.
"My Dad calls me 'journalist daughter'. He does this because he supports me and knows I will become one. I will do it with my Hijab, God willing".
Along with parent’s encouragement, the Centre and the State governments also took steps to boost education infrastructure from time to time.
The center also encourages families to send children to school and get technical qualifications that will enable them to get jobs and become financially self sufficient.
At a vocational training institute in Srinagar, young women also learn data processing, tailoring and other such skills.
"Nowadays, all parents want their children to have good jobs so that their future is secured,’ Computer instructor Nasir Ahmed said.
"The girls who pass out from this institute can land jobs in various companies".
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