Half-widows is used to describe wives of men who have disappeared but have not been declared dead. The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons estimates that 8,000-10,000 men have disappeared since 1989, leading to an estimated 1,500 half-widows in Kashmir. However, the government doesn’t recognise the phenomenon of enforced disappearances in Kashmir and asserts that the ‘missing’ count is not more than 4,000. This leaves the half-widows in a state of permanent limbo as they suffer the consequences of an ‘ambiguous loss’: a situation of loss without closure or clarity.
This unresolved grief results in post traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder. According to a recent survey by Action Aid, 14% of the 4,000 Kashmiri men and women studied were found to have severe mental health illnesses, the most common of which is depression. A study by Paul D’Souza and AMAN Trust, Vulnerabilities of Half Widows of Jammu and Kashmir, suggests that 92% of Kashmir's half-widows experience high vulnerability across the social, economic, gender, cultural and health dimensions.