By Jehangir Rashid
Kashmir valley has been a witness to the conflict over the past couple of decades and estimates put the number of casualties at one hundred thousand. Thousands of women have been widowed and almost one lakh children have turned out to be orphans.
In addition to the fatal casualties many other social implications have come up during the past two decades. These implications are telling upon the fabric of the society and such things have come to the forefront that was unthinkable in the past.
The conflict has eaten into the very vitals of the Kashmiri society and it is this conflict which is one of the main reasons for drug addiction among females in the Kashmir valley.
With search operations, crackdowns, firing incidents and grenade blasts being a regular feature; the women folk were all the time worried about the safety and security of their dear ones. Taking to drugs in the form of cough syrups and other sedatives was the only option left for the women to come out of the mental tension which hogged them like anything.
‘Everybody knows the situation through which the Kashmiris have been going through for the past 18 years or so. Since the females are more sensitive they were the most harried lot. In order to get out of the mental block these people would visit the medical shop in their vicinity and the person sitting there would prescribe some medicines to them giving them temporary relief,’ says Dr. Ghulam Nabi Wani, founder HNSS De-addiction Centre, Khanyar.
Before uprising of armed struggle in Kashmir valley women more so living in the rural areas used to take nicotine by puffing Hukka (hubble-bubble) and also by having feeds of poppy seeds. Once the armed uprising started to show its effects, there was a change in the pattern of addiction as far as females is concerned.
‘We can say that ladies and girls have fallen in the trap of the drug addiction by chance or due to the problems being faced by them during the last 18 years or so. With the males getting mentally disturbed due to the frequent search operations as well as crackdowns in addition to the firing incidents and grenade blasts, the women also felt distressed and they too were upset with the happenings taking place. We cannot blame anybody excepting the situation for this mess,’ said the HNSS founder.
Dr. Wani says that due to the threat to the life of their husband’s, father’s or son’s or brother’s, the females were up against a torrid time and most of the times they were seen depressed over the entire scheme of things.
‘A female would lose her mental balance once her father, husband, son or a brother would be arrested or killed due to the situation prevailing in the valley. In order to provide her relief many options would be explored and giving doses of the sedatives or tranquilizers was the easiest option even though the same would harm her in the longer run,’ he added.
Dwelling upon the other reasons responsible for drug addiction among females, the HNSS founder says that absence of controlling situation in the female educational institutes encouraged ‘anti-social’ elements to intrude and carry on with their activities. He adds that canteens present in some of these educational institutes turned out to be hot selling points of the drugs with some of the girls falling in the trap of drug addiction.
‘Over the years we have seen that literacy rate has increased among the girls and at the same time very few jobs are available to them. This creates frustration among them and in order to come out of the same they take to drugs with once again the cough syrups and some tablet forms being the easy way out. The society needs to do something about this and it is necessary that stress is not laid on the job profile of a girl on the eve of her marriage,’ said Dr. Wani.
The HNSS founder says that the girls as well as females belonging to the higher strata of society take to drug addiction as a mode of fashion. He adds that these females refer to non-addicts as backward and look upon them as citizens of the Neolithic age.
Following reports that thousands of females have fallen into the trap of drug addiction in the Kashmir valley, the HNSS de-addiction center carried out a month long programme from April 9 to May 9 this year for the detoxification of the female drug addicts. As a result of the programme seven females who had taken up drugs were detoxified. The detoxified female drug addicts were literates and they had been lured to the menace of drug addiction by different sources.
Sharing his views on this Dr. Wani says, ‘I am glad that we have been able to make a beginning regarding the detoxification of female drug addicts. When we started this programme I thought that nobody would come up and seek our help, but that is not to be. Since female drug addicts have approached us we are planning to start a rehabilitation course for them in the times to come’.
Touching upon the age group of the detoxified female drug addicts the HNSS founder says that the same varied between 18 and 33 years. He added that these people were literate with their qualification being matriculate and above.
‘Two of them belonged to rural areas while as the rest were of the city. These people were taking synthetic drugs like Spasmo, Codeine, tranquilizers and glue. All these drugs are smell less and they are easily available in the market. The failure to control the easily accessibility of drugs has led to serious repercussions and the drug addiction among females is a prime example in this context,’ said Dr. Wani.
Giving details about the source by which these people were induced to drugs, the HNSS founder says that one of them was induced by the male drug user while as self-medication was the reason for the other drug addict. ‘As far as other cases are concerned these people used Spasmo-Proxyvon drugs during the menstrual cycles and later on they took them with regularity,’ he added.
Observing that reasons varied for these females for taking up drugs, Dr. Wani said that less accountability of parents, growing age & marriage and the gap between parent and children are the reasons responsible for the female drug addiction as observed in the detoxified female drug addicts.
‘These people found the atmosphere as healthy here in the centre and they have promised that they would carry on the message to the other females involved in drug addiction. Our objective is to reach to all the females involved in drug addiction and once we do that than it can be said that we have achieved something,’ said the HNSS founder.
In addition of detoxifying seven female drug addicts the centre received 20 telephone calls from the other female drug addicts who wanted to have online counseling from Dr. Wani and his team.
‘These people did not reveal their identity at the first instance and once they felt comfortable they started giving details. We motivated them and asked them to leave drug addiction. They promised that they would do the same and my belief is that things can be managed in a better way. Action needs to be done so that the drug addicts are counseled and also rehabilitated in the right manner,’ said the HNSS founder.
Dr. Wani believes that counseling at three levels would help a lot in motivating the drug addicts to say goodbye to drugs and help them in leading a normal life. ‘Group counseling, individual counseling and family counseling are the three important components in one’s life and they should be given the due consideration,’ he said.
Even though the educational standards have improved a lot among girls in Kashmir valley a disturbing trend has emerged at the same time. Girls and ladies in thousands have fallen in the trap of drug addiction across the Kashmir valley and if the trend is not arrested then situation would reach alarming levels in the days to come.
It is not only that simple literate girls or females have taken to drugs the professional females have fallen in this trap.
‘Hundreds of girls as well as ladies are taking to drugs in the Srinagar city and this number reaches to 3,000-4,000 when we talk of the Kashmir valley. I received a call from a female medico from an area of the main city centre and she too wants to register herself as she too has become a drug addict,’ says the HNSS founder.
Dwelling upon the reasons responsible for drug addiction among females, Dr. Wani attributed many to it and said that these have contributed to the ‘moral degradation’ in the society. He added that the disturbing trend is that well educated girls as well as females are falling prey to the menace of drug addiction and the same needs to be arrested.
‘It is a reality that girls are getting highly qualified and after doing so most of them are told by their parents to sit at their homes and be ready for their marriage. Physical maturity develops with educational maturity and as a girl sits idle after getting high education, she feels depressed and taking to drugs seems to be the lone option available to her. In the very first instance these people take to tablets and cough syrups and later they turn out to be serious drug addicts,’ said the HNSS founder.
Before the one month detoxification course Dr. Wani and his team treated five cases of female drug addiction at the centre and they were able to rehabilitate these affected girls. These girls belonged to the age group of 17-27 years and felt depressed due to one reason or the other.
‘All these girls belonged to the well-educated families of the Srinagar city and all of them came from the well off families. One among them was working at a call centre, while as two were post graduates with two others being graduates. This goes to show the menace of drug addiction is spreading like anything among the girls of the high class families and this needs to be stopped,’ said Dr. Wani.
The HNSS founder said that since the girls taking to drugs are in close contact with their friends, it is highly possible that they would encourage them as well to take to drugs. He added that once this happens it would be disastrous for the society with its ramifications being felt by one and all.
‘It would be a disastrous situation and in order to prevent this thing to happen we will have to act very fast. Once some of the girls as well as ladies come here for help and rehabilitation, it would encourage others to follow suit while trying to leave the drugs,’ says Dr. Wani.
The HNSS founder said that the girls receiving their education at the university hide themselves behind the bushes and shrubs in the university campus and take drugs being supplied to them.
The HNSS has carried out the survey under the United Nations (UN) Drug Control Programme and they have taken the help of the psychologists in order to know the extent as well as nature of the female drug users. Based on this survey it has come to light that 3,000-4,000 females are involved in drug addiction across the Kashmir valley.
The situation is alarming as the girls receiving higher education at the university or college level have fallen in the dragnet of drug addiction. Professionals including some of the medicos feeling frustrated after unable to get a job take to drugs so as to relieve the tension through which they are passing, the survey says.
‘Drug addiction among females has turned out to be a fashion and those who do not follow the suit are termed as backward. The significant feature associated with the female drug addiction is that the sale point gets changed and nobody believes that the females are involved in the drug addiction,’ said Dr. Wani.
When asked about the drugs being used frequently by the females, the HNSS founder said that glue has turned out to be the favorite among the females. He said that cough syrups, proxyvon tablets and neuro-toxic drugs are also used to a great extent by the female drug users.
‘It has been discovered by HNSS that glue is the most favoured drug being used by the female drug users. Usually when a girl goes to a stationery shop to get a glue stick, the same is provided without any suspicion by the shop owner. The girl uses the glue as a drug and the same has turned out to be a disturbing trend in the Kashmiri society and it has to be arrested at the earliest,’ said Dr. Wani.
Jehangir Rashid Malik is a news editor with Daily Khidmat (English). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.