Women's group to launch campaign against prostitution in Kashmir

The leader of Indian Kashmir's only female separatist group said Tuesday that she planned to launch a new campaign against prostitution, even though her previous attempt landed her in prison. Days after being released from jail, Asiya Andrabi, who leads Dukhtaran-e-Millat, or Daughters of the Community, said that her group also wants to shut down cable television stations, which she accused of "corrupting youth."

"Cable television needs to be closed," Andrabi, who was released Sunday, told The Associated Press. "Radio gives enough information about the world." She and six of her supporters were thrown in jail in September after they peacefully raided cybercafes and guest houses and tried to force owners into turning out young couples and alleged sex workers. They also raided video stores in search of what they deemed immoral content.

They were subsequently arrested and held under public saftey laws in Kashmir, where the Indian government has battled an Islamic insurgency since 1989.

Jammu-Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state in predominantly Hindu India, and separatists, some peaceful, others violent, have long sought its independence or merger with Pakistan.

But past efforts by hard-line groups to enforce Taliban-style moral codes have gained little traction in Kashmir, which is split between India and Pakistan and claimed by both. Still, separatist feelings run deep among Indian Kashmir's 9.5 million people, and Andrabi said Tuesday that moral decadence such as young couples displaying affection in public was on the rise in the region because of "Indian" influences.

Despite spending four months in prison, Andrabi said her "resolve to fight immorality and decadence was stronger than ever,” reports the AP. I.L.

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