In 2001, Aasiya Jeelani started the first women newsletter called the Voices Unheard. Lubna Reshi started HerVoice, the first ever women led e-magazine in 2013. Later this year, Lubna’s brainchild FemVoice will be on newsstands. Here she tell her story, of how it all began.
Living here is resisting; it is gory; a deathly image; a continuous struggle.
Being Kashmiri means lives lost and evasive justices, reverberation of slogans and demonstration of courage, seeing blood, mourning and screams.
It isn’t easy being a Kashmiri; we are resilient, fierce and reckless. Who cares about life here – we are just mad about Azadi.
Well! Being a Kashmiri also comes with lot of responsibilities. I’m Lubna Reshi – just another Kashmir – who holds the desire to pelt a stone at least once in life and be buried on the highest peak of ‘Kashir pahaad’.
For me and most of us it all starts when world before us unfold its true meaning.
When I began to know the world around me, I struggled with the kind of circumstances and the way of life around me. I knew my people – my parents, siblings, cousins, my friends, my school mates and my neighbours – but there were some who were just alien to me.
I couldn’t identify with them. For me and my friends, these different looking men in uniforms were nothing less than monsters that would stop my school bus everyday so that their convoy could pass at ease. My school, Iqbal Memorial Institute, was just located near Toto ground which was under Indian Army.
I remember asking my father about it and he came up with answers too complicated for a 10-year-old kid to make sense of. He wanted to let me know the reality.
“Why do we need these men around us and why do they look so different?” Such questions would cross my mind every day as I would keep noticing them – while going to school, walking down the roads, visiting relatives.
They were just all around.
In that age when the major goal of life was finishing home work and deciding what cartoon show to watch. I would hear gun shots and watch images of blood soaked bodies on TV.
All this left indelible stamp on my heart.
Gradually, that little understanding of the world heralded into a new beginning for me. In my diary, in broken words, I kept writing about my dreaded experiences and each day added new horrifying detail.
As age progressed, realisation came to fore.
Those broken words needed a shape. Yes, I chose journalism as my career to give voice to that infliction regardless of the fact how difficult it was for a woman to be a journalist in a conflict zone.
I believe when you grow up in the bloodshed and bullets you never betray the truth. As a journalist you feel the responsibility to let your reality be known to rest of the world.
Kashmir was not technologically very dynamic, few years back, but as world entered into realm of online journalism, Kashmir too didn’t lag behind. Youth in Kashmir learnt to make use of technology. They started reporting on their own. They created their own spaces, websites or blogs to pour in their heart.
My experience with journalism studies provided me a strong foundation and required exposure to the different aspects of research. I finished my PG five years back and my M.Phil a year back.
During my term at university it occurred to me that almost every woman in Kashmir has a story to tell but not everyone gets a chance to share her story and not everyone is vocal enough to put herself out.
I think after truth women is the first casualty of conflict. In this silent and most ignored conflicts of the world women issues are like no issues.
Women are deprived of their basic rights. They are being molested, humiliated but their voice is buried under the patriarchal political system. Their stories of success go unheard.
And that’s where the idea of ‘Her Voice’ came up.
Hervoice began as hervoice.co – to extensively cover the issues of women for there were no women specific magazines in Kashmir.
It was just an attempt to unfurl the issues that have been buried somewhere.
Hervoice is a platform to raise, share, and discuss the stories and issues related to women of Kashmir.
You can say it an attempt to be voice of all those women who long to express themselves, who fought their battle all alone, who touched the pinnacle of success but none knows them, who crossed the threshold of pain with only few little people standing by their side and for all those who abnegate their own-selves for the sake of others.
Its scaffold began in my head when I was still in the university but couldn’t give it a form until 2013. For next two years I focused on its online version only and in 2015 I applied for magazine registration. It took me next two years with the formalities and fighting my own procrastinations – while being engaged in work, M.Phil dissertation, betrothal and marriage.
And after flying back from Delhi few days back i received this message that ‘the verified title is getting blocked in next five days’.
It gave me jitters.
And in next five days, I pulled off the courage of four years and got it designed and printed.
Though I couldn’t retain the original name, for authorities didn’t approve as it was already running online, so I got this title ‘FEM VOICE’ for ‘HER VOICE’.
It was a long cherished dream.
Its dummy version – the first printed copy – as we call it in our lingo — is already out.
There is still a milestone to cover and Inshallah next month it will be hitting the newsstands.
Femvoice is an all women newspaper which is run and managed by women. You can add your voice to help get stronger. You can reach Lubna Reshi at firstname.lastname@example.org.