My Community: Wealth of Gender Discrimination
Nepal was ruled by Rana’s dictator from 1903 B.S where Nepalese weren’t allowed to go to schools, to be in the decision making level, and to raise their voices. During the period, the people’s rights were kept like a bird in a cage. Therefore, in 2007 B.S. Nepalese fought against the 104 years Rana’s dictatorship and family rule and brought democracy. Again after years of civil strife, last year after election, Nepalese bring Maoist democracy but what happened after the freedom? Were Nepalese getting their freedom? They get freedom but when it comes to gender equality, there is a huge gap between male and female. Men become powerful, but women are like 59 years ago Nepalese. Their voices are ignored and are discriminated in every sector. Most of the women in the country are ignored politically, culturally, socially, and economically. Rural women are highly discriminated in Nepal because they work 10.8hours/day and get only Rs.130 without food whereas men worked 7.5 hours/day and earned Rs. 200 with food. In Nepal 90% people live and depend on agriculture in rural area. IPM(2000) reported that Nepalese women covers 63% of farming labor, but only 10% of women have their own land. Moreover, people believe and superstitions are the main causes that restrict women to understand the real world and bound them in Kitchen. Their world is their family, their power is their husband and their fortune is their children. Let me share my experience.
Let me start from my family background. My father is a single son of my grandparents, but my grandfather left when my grandmother was pregnant. My grandmother struggle with this cruel society and grew up my father. My grandmother told me when my father was young; other children don’t want to play with my father because only my grandmother grew up him. They used to call my father “Son without Father” which made my father embarrassed. He grew up alone, but he never gives up his work. He graduates ISC. in agriculture. My mother is from middle family with five brothers and four sisters. She is the youngest among all. My grandfather sends all maternal uncles to school, but my mother and aunts are illiterate. My mother told me that her father believes that educating daughters is worthless. In Nepal, educating a son is investing in his ability to look after his ageing parents while educating a daughter is considered a no-return investment. When she marries, she becomes another family’s asset.
Currently, my mother is in her forties, but she never talks with her father looking at his eyes because she believes it’s the way of respect to elders, so she wants us to be like her. Therefore my father is a farmer and mother is a housewife in a village. We have little piece of land where we grow crops ourselves and survive. My father is the owner of our house and lands.
Although I born in low-middle class family, most of the time people tell me that I am very lucky. Yes! I am lucky, but it doesn’t mean I never had bad times. My parents are so happy when I born because my father didn’t have any siblings. But the partiality occurred when I grew up. Our society gives me dolls and pots to play whereas they give buses, planes, and cars to play for boys. Alike, I am not allowed to play with boys. However, my father became little supportive for me. He sent me to Janta School, Bhutaitole to study. We don’t have any school in my village. I hardly remember my first day to school where we sat on the cold floor with open roof and studied. We had no women's teacher. In Nepal 40% of Nepal's primary school has no women teachers and strong social and political barrier obstruct female recruitment (UNESCO). We used to go near the pond for toilets. "Lack of toilets in schools across Nepal -- where poor sanitation remains a major obstacle to development -- is tied to increasingly high drop-out rates for girls, say studies by local institutions and the United Nations." UNICEF reported on 16 April 2009 that Nepal comes in the highest rank of open defecation in the world. It also says that about 61% of Nepalese still lacking access to toilets that caused Diarrhoea and killed many children in Nepal from poor sanitation.
From my childhood, I heard from my mother and neighbors that “You are a girl when you grow up, you should be soft like a rapping doll. Your husband will dominate you. He will build your lifestyle and path. Whatever he does is your fortune. You cannot go outside without his permission. You will have no male friends. You should not burst out in laughers because you are a woman. Women who burst out laughing are inelegant in our community.” I am against all this believes, but I was compelled to accept this because I live in the society where no one hears my screams. As I was small no one understood the pain of my subconscious mind. When I was young, I used to go to pond to swim with some of my village’s friends without my parents’ permission because I knew if I had asked them, they wouldn’t allow me to go. But once my mother knew our swimming, she locked me in the room and beat me with a bamboo stick. After that my freedom was bound inside the room looking after my four sisters and taking care of them.
Gradually, my mother taught me about the culture and religion. She told me I have to wear Kurtha and Sarwal not Jeans and t-shirts. She also told me that I am not allowed to change my religion because I will be ignored from the society. I should not involve in meeting, seminars and rally (demonstration) but when I was studying in class 10, I involved in student government. I was the treasurer of Nepal Student Council. We organized a meeting weekly. Once our meeting took place an hour longer and I was late to home. My mother scolded and beat me but I never told to my friend. I thought it’s personal and we should not share our personal problem with others. She told me I shouldn’t involve in politics because it’s a bad game and only bad people play it. She also said that politics would not provide food and the reality that we cannot live without food. However from my childhood, I am very curious about the real world. I wanted to involve in every program and activities in my school. Once I joined Rewkai and went to Dulari VDC for plantation. My mother didn’t give food to eat that night. My freedom was closed. Gradually, I moved between my school and house. Time marches on but the situation unchanged rather it became worst. Later, my friends Sangita and Apsara dropout from the school after their secondary level. They left school because of fee and have to go far away. The rising cash costs of schooling, in addition to these high opportunity costs, are locking thousands of girls out of school. (UNICEF). When they were sixteen they got married. Education must be made free and compulsory for all and should be in appropriate place so that everyone will be educated.
On 2062 B.S., I joined HR Journalism Forum and met many people who are suffering from war. War is the most important part that influenced in my life. The war started in 2052 B.S. from Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) when I was only 9 years old. In Nepal, I saw women victims in cross fire when the Maoists were in the jungle. Women were raped and killed by the armies and the Maoists. On April 25, 2006 at about 8.30pm, Sapana Gurung was first raped by three security officers and was shot later. There was a crowd of about three thousand civilian protestors. The members of armed force opened fire where six protestors were killed and 50 others were injured. The accident was on Sub police Station at Belbari-3, Morang districts. Our journalism forum president, Deepen Neupane, was also injured in the accident. When my parents knew about it, they yelled at me because that was not a work they wanted for their daughter.
Moreover, in our community, rural married women have friends to share their feelings but in some places Widow’s situation is worst. They had no opportunities to involve in social activities and make networks with others. Maiya katwal, 39, from Mirgouliya VDC became widow 10 years ago. She was staying in Bauka that is only 5km far from Ithari municipality. Her community ignored her after her husband death. Finally she left the place and came to stay in Mirgouliya VDC in order to survive. She had made a small house made up of Bamboo and staying with her three children. She said, “I wanted to work but when people know about my situation, they ignored me. They believe that if they see me, they will have a bad day. What’s my fault?” Widows are considered bad luck in Nepal and therefore are forced to stay indoors. Thus when they venture out, if someone sees them that is why they believe they will have a bad day.
United Nation, 2004, gender Index reports on the social status of Nepalese women that 40% Nepalese girls between 15-19 ages were married, divorced or widowed.
On the other hand, in our community, dalits are known as low cast and untouchable. Women’s situations in dalits are miserable. Gyanu Nepali, 12, gets married five years ago when she was studying in class six with 38 years old man. Currently, she is staying with her husband in Silong, India. She gave birth to 4 children but she has only a child and she is also pregnant. Rest passed away because lack of proper sanitation. United Nation, 2001 data shows that 7% of girls under the age of 10 are married in Nepal. On the other hand, Gyanu’s maternal uncle, Ram Bhadhur Nepali, 35, married a girl Kumari but he drank and beat Kumari, so she left him. After six month, Ram married Manju. He also tortured her everyday and she left him when she was pregnant. Again after 18 months, Ram marries Binita. Now he is living with her but sometimes he also beat her. Yesterday, he warned his wife that if she didn’t give him money for Alcohol, he would marry another wife. In Nepal Polygon is illegal if men marry more than a wife, he is subject to two months imprison and fine and the law validates the second marriage after the imprison. Ram has already married three wives and is interested to marry another also but he didn’t bear any imprison.
It’s much too discriminate between son and daughter, husband and wife. We don’t want our sisters to be ignored like Ram’s wives or Ram’s Cousin. We want to live like a person of the human society not like a tame animal and set up an example that women can do everything. We want to fly in the sky like birds, but we don’t need wings because we don’t want to fly away from our country. “Enough Is Enough.” Gender discrimination should be fully stopped. The government and people like us have to start. A small change has just emerged, increasing the number of educated women. I believe this greatest hope will help us to bring the equality in the country but still there is a doubt. If all women become literate, will they be able to work and support their family? Unless a woman become economically powerful, she cannot become in the decision making level and again we will be lagging behind men. I want to walk on the way of light and build up an enlightened world that’s my wish. International community can help for education, awareness and bring various women’s empowerment program.
This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 31 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most forgotten corners of the world. Meet Us.