Almost a year after Kashmir Monitor report revealed that at least 30000 orphan girls were awaiting marriage; there seems to be no end to their miseries as society continues to be in a slumber over the issue. According to orphanage heads there are very few takers for orphan girls,ninety percent of whom have already crossed the 30 years of age.
Zahoor Ahmed Tak, Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Yateem Trust said that there is no change in the status of orphan girls as such due to the lack of awakening and irresponsible behaviour among the valleyiites. “I don’t see any change in the approaches to offer a helping hand to the orphans as thousands of orphans still continue to wait to settle in their lives. The reason is simple these women can’t offer dowry and there are very few people who are religiously so motivated to do take such bold steps,” he said.
The yateem trust has taken care of its first batch of 14 orphan girls who are presently studying in higher secondary part two and also 10 girls are in 10th class at present. “We have no hopes other than Allah as there is a dire need to change the mind-set of the people who can come forward and marry the orphans. Besides helping almost 120 orphan girls at our orphanage to continue their further studies, we also provide 300 wedding kits every year to the orphans under our marriage assistance program since 1989. The number of beneficiaries whom we help through our schemes fluctuates,” Tak said.
A R Hanjura, Founder of Islamic Relief and Research Trust (IRRT), said that there is still a stigma attached in the society to marry orphans as people are more tuned towards materialism over religious and humanitarian grounds. “There is no change in trend to marry orphans without any indifference or hesitance and only religious people come forward. We don’t find more than 3-4 cases in a year of people who show their willingness to marry orphan girls,” Hanjura said. “Today, everyone is looking for financially sound and working women with good status and all unfortunately all these features can’t be found in orphans which is becoming a major deterrent,” he added.
Hanjura said that they also got many offers from outside the country who showed their interest to marry orphan girls but they didn’t feel it to marry the orphans to outsiders. “We were not comfortable in marrying these girls to outsiders so we rejected the offers. We were reluctant and a sort of worried for their safety,” he added.
Although, 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 30,000 girls are waiting since long to get married but are not able to due to poverty and are already in their mid-30’s. The over-age due to the delayed marriages is also taking a heavy toll on their physical as well as mental health and resulting in adjustment problems.
Syed Kousar, Public Relations Officer, Yateem Foundation said that every organization is trying its best to help the orphans through different assistance programs but still the number is huge and is growing which can be only tackled by the humane approach by the society towards these orphans. “Unless the society doesn’t welcome these orphans with open heart the things won’t change much on ground. People have to come forward and become responsible Muslims and accept the poor girls without any selfishness,” Kousar said.
He said that their organization is helping the orphans through cash assistance which depends on the economic condition of the orphans to help them in marriage assistance. “We covered 130 orphans and in 232 in the year 2011 and 2012 under our marriage program. There is a dire need that the society should come forward and make the orphans a part of their social setup instead of pushing them against the wall,” Kousar added.