AffiliationMédecins Sans Frontières, Plantage Middenlaan 14, 1018 DD Amsterdam, the Netherlands. email@example.com.
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JournalConflict and Health
AbstractABSTRACT: 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.