• Conflict in the Indian Kashmir Valley I: exposure to violence.

      de Jong, K; Ford, N; Kam, S; Lokuge, K; Fromm, S; van Galen, R; Reilley, B; Kleber, R; Médecins Sans Frontières, Plantage Middenlaan 14, 1018 DD Amsterdam, the Netherlands. kaz.de.jong@amsterdam.msf.org. (2008-10-14)
      ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: India and Pakistan have disputed ownership of the Kashmir Valley region for many years, resulting in several conflicts since the end of partition in 1947. Very little is known about the prevalence of violence and insecurity in this population. METHODS: We undertook a two-stage cluster household survey in two districts (30 villages) of the Indian part of Kashmir to assess experiences with violence and mental health status among the conflict-affected Kashmiri population. The article presents our findings for confrontations with violence. Data were collected for recent events (last 3 months) and those occurring since the start of the conflict. Informed consent was obtained for all interviews. RESULTS: 510 interviews were completed. Respondents reported frequent direct confrontations with violence since the start of conflict, including exposure to crossfire (85.7%), round up raids (82.7%), the witnessing of torture (66.9%), rape (13.3%), and self-experience of forced labour (33.7%), arrests/kidnapping (16.9%), torture (12.9%), and sexual violence (11.6%). Males reported more confrontations with violence than females, and had an increased likelihood of having directly experienced physical/mental maltreatment (OR 3.9, CI: 2.7-5.7), violation of their modesty (OR 3.6, CI: 1.9-6.8) and injury (OR 3.5, CI: 1.4-8.7). Males also had high odds of self-being arrested/kidnapped (OR 8.0, CI: 4.1-15.5). CONCLUSION: The civilian population in Kashmir is exposed to high levels of violence, as demonstrated by the high frequency of deliberate events as detention, hostage, and torture. The reported violence may result in substantial health, including mental health problems. Males reported significantly more confrontations with almost all violent events; this can be explained by higher participation in outdoor activities.
    • Conflict in the Indian Kashmir Valley II: psychosocial impact.

      de Jong, K; van der Kam, S; Ford, N; Lokuge, K; Fromm, S; van Galen, R; Reilley, B; Kleber, R (2008-10-14)
      ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: India and Pakistan have disputed ownership of the Kashmir Valley region for many years, resulting in high level of exposure to violence among the civilian population of Kashmir (India). A survey was done as part of routine programme evaluation to assess confrontation with violence and its consequences on mental health, health service usage, and socio-economic functioning. METHODS: We undertook a two-stage cluster household survey in two districts of Kashmir (India) using questionnaires adapted from other conflict areas. Analysis was stratified for gender. RESULTS: Over one-third of respondents (n=510) were found to have symptoms of psychological distress (33.3%, CI: 28.3-38.4); women scored significantly higher (OR 2.5; CI: 1.7-3.6). A third of respondents had contemplated suicide (33.3%, CI: 28.3-38.4). Feelings of insecurity were associated with higher levels of psychological distress for both genders (males: OR 2.4, CI: 1.3-4.4; females: OR 1.9, CI: 1.1-3.3). Among males, violation of modesty, (OR 3.3, CI: 1.6-6.8), forced displacement, (OR 3.5, CI: 1.7-7.1), and physical disability resulting from violence (OR 2.7, CI: 1.2-5.9) were associated with greater levels of psychological distress; for women, risk factors for psychological distress included dependency on others for daily living (OR 2.4, CI: 1.3-4.8), the witnessing of killing (OR 1.9, CI: 1.1-3.4), and torture (OR 2.1, CI: 1.2-3.7). Self-rated poor health (male: OR 4.4, CI: 2.4-8.1; female: OR 3.4, CI: 2.0-5.8) and being unable to work (male: OR 6.7, CI: 3.5-13.0; female: OR 2.6, CI: 1.5-4.4) were associated with mental distress. CONCLUSIONS: The ongoing conflict exacts a huge toll on the communities' mental well-being. We found high levels of psychological distress that impacts on daily life and places a burden on the health system. Ongoing feelings of personal vulnerability (not feeling safe) were associated with high levels of psychological distress. Community mental health programmes should be considered as a way reduce the pressure on the health system and improve socio-economic functioning of those suffering from mental health problems.