Doctrine divides, Action unites
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Why Is There Violence against Women in Nepal When Women Should Live in Freedom?
Mohammad Ayatulla Rahaman
Oh, oh, you know the issues. Why are we discussing this problem?
When have you thought about this issue? Can’t we solve this problem?
Yes, really, we can solve it.
Come to think about it, do you know about patriarchy and gender discrimination, etc.?
Let me tell you that women form half the population of the world. Women do so much work—such family activities as cooking, cleaning, farming, cutting the grass, etc. I want to first speak about the present situation and issues of women and discrimination between males and females in Nepal.
Do you know about violence against women and discrimination?
No, you do not know about this topic because they are women and we don’t understand women who talk about their painful lives. There is much discrimination between males and females in Nepal, such as gender-based violence and other physical violence, etc., but no one talks about it. Did you know?
You are also doing different kinds of violence in your family and your society. We do not care about the problems of women and their issues. I have listened when some people say that we shouldn’t waste money on girls, daughters and the education of women because they will go to another home after marriage. In my opinion, 50 percent of parents think that they can ignore the inheritance rights of the oldest child if that child is a girl. Consequently, every parent doesn’t give their daughter property because she is a girl.
I want to ask this question of men: Why do you look differently at males and females? Can you tell me?
No, you can’t tell me because you have no answer.
Have you thought about these issues?
No, you don’t think. It is your bad attitude and misconceptions.
I tell all my friends that there is no difference between males and females. Only one difference is their physical body structure, isn’t it? Yes, therefore, males and females are equal.
There are many uneducated women in our society in Nepal. Education is necessary for every person, both men and women, but males oppose education for women. The dowry system has made a strong impact on education. This social institution is why most of our Nepalese girls are uneducated. An educated daughter can help her parents in many ways. She otherwise may lead an unhappy life. If women are uneducated, they can’t properly care for their husband and children. We should thus send both our sons and daughters to learn to read in school as equals, and we should give both males and females equal opportunities. If women are uneducated, she cannot prepare herself for her father-in law’s blessing and cannot be an asset to her husband. Women would live in freedom.
Women have many problems, but they can’t tell their family and society because no one listens to the voice of women and their problems. They get little respect in our society because they are uneducated, and no one sees the value in educating them. Parents behave badly toward their daughters. Thus again, I say that we shouldn’t discriminate between males and females.
Meanwhile, Teej is celebrated by women and girls for the long life of their husband. During Teej, women hope for an able bridegroom and a good husband in their own life. Women do not eat rice on the day of Teej; women eat only fruit, curd and milk. I think that women’s behavior is like a kind of “patriarchy.” Women do very painful work but only think about a long life for their husband. Her husband though doesn’t care about his own wife. What does her husband think? We do not know. Women go home to her house during Teej, and she tells her parents about her many sorrows before doing painful work during Teej.
Women do so many things for men in our Nepalese society. Women work 18 hours every day. Have you compared the work women do daily with that of men?
No, you don’t compare because you are a boy or adult male.
There is much discrimination against women in our country and society. When a baby is born, then everyone asks, Is it a son or daughter? When a daughter is born, people then hate the new child. This example is just one of the many kinds of discrimination that women bear in our Nepal as well as the violence.
Everyone thinks that boys are strong and that anyone who can carry heavy loads and work in the fields is called a male person. Some people say that those who are gentle, motherly and lovely are called female people. Others believe that male people are brave and powerful and that female people are coy, shy and powerless. This is only our traditional thinking. This kind of thinking is rooted in our traditions up to now. Consequently, these are our bad and discriminatory conceptions of gender roles in society.
Male people though are doing different kinds of violence against female people in our Nepalese society. Male people though should strive to end this kind of violence and discrimination, and male people should adjust to the idea that female people can do any kind of activity.
Now all female people should assemble. Women will then get their own rights. If women don’t assemble, they cannot participate in society and can’t have their rights and live fully.
What have male people—doctors, pilots and other great people—to do with giving birth? Do you know?
No, only female people give birth—birth to both men and women. Thus, who is brave? Female people are brave in our country.
At the beginning of life, women keep a new child in her own uterus for nine months. She has problems during this time, but she solves her own problems herself, and it is very painful.
Have we thought about women’s problems?
No, we never think. We men think only about ourselves. Although women have many problems, they save their baby even when there are difficulties.
Women also face domination by educated people too. Male people think to themselves that I am a brave man. Their thinking is foolish thinking so I want to say that this kind of thinking is bad thinking. I request that you never think in this kind of way again.
Other than a few biological differences, girls and boys are not different. In fact, the bodies of girls and boys have more similarities than differences. Only the sexual and reproductive organs are different. All other organs are the same. This biological or physical construction is called sex. These biological or physical differences are created by nature, and these differences are the same in every family, community and country. Thus, biologically, a boy is the same anywhere in the world, and a girl is the same anywhere in the world. The social and cultural definition of men and women is called gender. Nature does not create inequalities. Nature only provides males and females with different organs for our reproduction. The discrimination between men and women has been created by society, not by nature or God.
Gender refers to the socially constructed roles and identities of men and women as well as the relationships between them. Women face unequal power relationships and gender-based barriers due to the traditions of our patriarchal society in Nepal. Girls and boys are treated differently from their early years of life. To be a good wife in the future, a girl needs to learn cooking, sewing, how to collect water and fodder and other household chores. Women suffer from doing so many different kinds of work and from carrying out the most onerous tasks, like carrying compost to the field, weeding and sowing. Women’s interaction with other people and their movement is oftentimes limited. Women are also afflicted by gender-based violence, dowry-related incidents, etc.
Women are also affected by the patriarchal thinking in our society. Male people control female people in Nepal through discrimination and abuse them through physical and mental violence.
Do you know what is sex and what is gender?
Sex is a natural thing, and it is defined by our nature. We can’t change sex.
Gender is a social thing, and it is defined by our society. We can very easily change gender discrimination in our society. Our society though has confined women in our homes; women should not go out of the home. Our society has also given men and women different kinds of work. Male people don’t cook, don’t work in their own home. Male people can do any kind of work outside of their home. Female people want to do different kinds of work outside of their home, but they can’t do so in our society. Some people say that women should help their mother cook and clean her home. Thus, I want to say that here is discrimination by her parents. This example is what we mean by gender roles. Our society has discriminated between males and females; it is gender violence. Women face discrimination by both society and their family.
In conclusion there should be no discrimination between male and female people. They are equal, but we have misconceptions. We should think about our attitudes and reflect on them. When I think about the issue of women and violence, then I hate myself. I hope we can change in our families and society this kind of violence. Men and women are two parts of the same coin. There are many uneducated women in our Nepal so they have not had the chance to develop in our society. If there was not this discrimination in Nepal, our Nepal would be more highly developed. Can’t we solve this problem?
Actually, we can solve these issues. I believe that first we should change our own behavior ourselves. Then we can change our family and society. Consequently, I ask all my friends to never discriminate between males and females; I request all my friends to work to end gender discrimination between males and females and sexual violence from today. At first, we should unite our mind and body. Then we can change very easily our problems and issues related to women.
* Mohammad Ayatulla Rahaman is the Midwest regional coordinator of Youth Peer Education Network-Nepal (YPEER–Nepal).