No takers for lesser mortals, society watches on 30,000 orphan girls await marriage
Aliya Bashir In a startling revelation, at least 30,000 orphan girls of Kashmir, who are in mid-30, are not able to get married due to lack of money. The development has set alarm bells ringing across Kashmir and once again put a question mark on the functioning of orphanages. A R Hanjura, Founder of Islamic Relief and Research Trust (IRRT), said that the Kashmir has 2, 14,000 orphans in which around 30,000 girls are waiting since long to get married but are not able to due to poverty. “In the last ten years, we have been able to help only 4000-5000 girls to get married. We provided them with financial assistance of Rs 2000-2500 and distributed few marriage items in a bridal kit. But, that is not enough as there are a huge number of orphans who have reached the suitable age of marriages and are not even able to perform their marriages,” he said, adding that these orphan girls are not even able to perform their marriages in a simple way. According to a report titled ‘Orphaned in Kashmir’ by Save the Children, the estimated population of orphans in Jammu and Kashmir is 2, 14,000 and 37 per cent of them were orphaned due to the armed conflict. On the basis of total child population of the state in 2009, the estimated number of orphans stands at over two lakhs in which 55 per cent orphans across the state are between the age group of 7-18 years followed by around 38 per cent in the 15-18 years age group. The percentage of orphans below six years of age was found below seven percent. There is a growing trend in Kashmir from past many years where people are spending in lakhs and crores when it comes to marriages as people are doing everything larger than life. The extravaganza in the festivity from buying expensive jeweller to designer outfits and spending in food to decorations and other rituals has made the whole affair of marriage quite un-affordable for the lower-income groups. While highlighting the problems of orphan girls, Zahoor Ahmed Tak, Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Yateem Trust said that the situation has become disastrous for orphan girls as they are facing problems in getting employment, no suitable matches and tension-filled society who are not ready to marry orphan girls and give her a new life by expecting a reward from Allah. “There are no exact figures to suggest the accurate number of orphans who have reached the prime age of their marriages but as per the rough estimates we have more than 20, 000 orphan girls who are already in their mid-30’s but are yet to get married,” he said. Tak further said that the over-age due to the delayed marriages is taking a heavy toll on the physical as well as mental health of girls which at the end results in adjustment problems. “The increasing social evils in marriage institutions demand for dowry, working girls and boys and increase in materialism are some of the major reasons which are pushing the orphan further to alienation. Everyone talks about the problems and different reasons but no one is bothered to help them on ground and accepting them is a far issue,” he added. Dr. Arshid Hussain, a renowned psychiatrist said that the late marriages especially for orphan girls can have devastating effects on the psychological health that are already separated from the normal functioning of the society. “The negative effects of late marriage on orphans can range from depression to marital disharmony. Beyond a normal phase of marriage age, they might not be able to enjoy the benefits of marriage and there can be hormonal imbalance and procreation is a biggest issue which may get disturbed due to hormonal imbalance,” he said.