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Pen and Poltergeist: A Battle for Emancipation

Girls going school: Many children at Himalayas and hills are forced to meet this fate due to no availability of proper road and bridge to reach schools that may take a whole day to reach.

As I sit here to write, I find myself lucky enough to have this luxury of writing, of having access to this amazing technology and knowing just how and when to move my fingers on the keyboard, just a click away for the world to read my mind and let my words speak, my thoughts catch like a forest fire. The spontaneity of feeling thankful and blessed for this indulgence is almost palpable and I can’t resist it as if I’m a non-human being, who otherwise would have no right to be entitled to this pure beauty of knowledge, art and expression. Is it necessary even to feel this undesired, whimsical thankfulness just for posting a tiny piece of writing?! Yes it is, especially in a war trodden and poverty infected country like Nepal. A pang of guilt and deep remorse grip my heart as I think about thousands of those innocent girls who are denied of their basic human rights- their right to education, their essential right to speak, to be heard and lead an independent life.

While women have stepped moon and taken lead role in all possible fields of human endeavours, it’s ironical and equally alarming that the greatest challenge that we face today is access to girl’s education. There are several challenges that a girl child may face such as social, cultural and economic barriers that keep her from going to school. Poverty is one such marsh which has rendered thousands of children, especially girls, physically and mentally malnourished and intellectually disabled, reinforcing yet more poverty. It is much easier for the parents to employ their young children as a source of income than sending to schools. Marrying daughters off sooner would cut half of their burden than bearing their costs and lamenting later with a hefty dowry.

Girls are married off early, bear children in tender age and die (a properly planned murder in a socially acceptable way) as we often witness in rural and suburban parts of Nepal. If she survives, she would give birth to many until she’s worn out. According to the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare over 34 per cent of new marriages in Nepal involve brides under 15 years of age, while in some rural Tarai districts of Dhanusha, Mahottari and Rupandehi, more than 50 per cent of marriages involve girls under 12 years of age.

Social biases and discrimination are pervasive especially in rural parts of Nepal where boys are preferred as the sole bearer of family’s lineage and the main earner. From religious myths to everyday practices, everything fosters cultural biasness towards daughters and girls that teach them to be submissive, vulnerable and obedient as opposed to the male characteristics of dominance, strength and intelligence. Mainstream development plans, legal frameworks and strategic policies seem to have submerged in gender stereotypes. Lack of women’s real and meaningful participation at the decision making and leadership level is one of the greatest woes of Nepal. There is no REAL participation of women in decision making level and involved few are but a sheer REPRESENTATION, just a sit-in, made ultimately to look like participation.

Change doesn’t come in isolation; myriads of aspects must work out to elevate the condition of women and girls. Making education free up to the high school level would increase the girl child’s enrollment, however won’t guarantee her liberation from the discrimination and bias for which it is imperative that women researchers, politicians, educationists, law makers and leaders be given a chance to bring change. Incentives in girls’ education as well as some vocational training to the parents and girls themselves would work wonders. Besides, good teacher trainings are equally essential. Lack of awareness on education prevails among the illiterate mass, therefore, some awareness campaigns with women leaders and teachers would be a good move.

Coming from an educated family, I didn’t personally experience social or cultural bias, but I still feel it in the air I breathe, the allies I walk. I hear it in my soul, throbbing, grumbling and roaring; hundreds of poltergeists within me as if awoken after years of sleep to remind me that I have responsibilities, obligations to make. These dead Poltergeists must rise, must groan in each educated individual’s soul, for if they can’t do anything, they must not remain silent. This deafening silence would be an injustice to those millions of girls who don’t and perhaps will never enjoy the precious right to education and emancipation unless we in solidarity speak for them. It’s a battle for emancipation which each one of us must fight. So, I write, I speak the stories of daughters, sisters, wives and mothers, the nurturers of humanity. And unless I don’t, my soul will never be at peace.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
Learn more »

Comments

Sharontina's picture

Planned

A planned murder - you put it right. Yes, but it should no more be socially acceptable. if so, then that social structure is unacceptable to us.Well written Sangita. keep sharing.

Love

Merlin Sharontina

Sangita Thapa's picture

Yes

Yes, its a planned murder! and socially acceptable in a sense that it is a socio-culturally induced murder of young and innocent girls. True, it shouldnt be acceptable, but it still continues in many forms besides early marriages, such as witchcraft, domestic violence and rapes. I hope education will help eradicate all these vices and crimes.

Shamsa's picture

Pen and Poltergeists I love

Pen and Poltergeists
I love this phrase, the ghosts must not remain silent..the story needs to be told...the cause needs to be fought. Very heartbreaking seeing the pictures of the girls crossing the Himalayas like that..I never heard of this before keep telling stories from Asia, the world wants to listen

Sangita Thapa's picture

Yes Shamsa

Its heartbreaking and sad to see these girls going to school facing such hardships. The State hasn't been able to provide infrastructures like road, bridge, school buildings and proper and sufficient reading materials. In some rural parts, children sit on mats under giant trees in open fields to take their class, if lucky they would find more than one or two teachers to teach them throughout the year.

Thanks for liking my post. I will definitely tell more stories.

Stacey Rozen's picture

Enlightening

So enlightening, Sangita. It's as if you've revealed the subliminal undercurrents - answering the question of what lies beneath socially accepted norms. Keep uncovering and revealing with your vital voice.

Creatively,
Stacey

Sangita Thapa's picture

honoured!

Its indeed a very sublime experience that your words are being listened carefully and that your thoughts are appreciated. Im so happy that you read my post and found it worth commenting. Yes dear Stacey, i will try to keep up with your expectations.Thanks a million for your inspiring words.

Stacey Rozen's picture

I know that feeling - it's

I know that feeling - it's amazing that the WP platform connects us so profoundly. Looking forward to reading your next story!

Creatively,
Stacey

Debra K Adams MA's picture

before patriarchy

before there was a patriarchy, there was a matriarchy - In the USA, our indigenous Indian people say this about women...

The Woman is not only the key to life; she is also the key to future generations. An Elder once joked that the Woman only needs the man for one night. We need to look at and respect the power of the Woman. She is special and we need to treat her that way.
Cecilia Mitchell, Mohawk

I love this and wish to return to this model of social and culture organizations!
Girls should be honored to be born - without girls there wold be no more boys!! Girls carry a family legacy forward - not men - without women - the world would cease to exist!

great writing - thank you!

"Be the change you want in the world." Gandhi

Debra K. Adams, MA
See my vizify bio! https://www.vizify.com/debra-k-adams-ma-pdv-cws
Survivors In Service: Self Empowerment Strategies (SiSSeS)
Consultant/Speaker/Author & Owner/Founder

Very true Debra, woman is special and she should be treated that way. Without the power of women, the world would be a barren place to live in. Thanks for mentioning this beautiful line dear.

That statement alone captures the absurdity of discrimination to the girl child, to the women.
This can only be changed by educating and empowering more women and also bringing in men into that discussion.

Keep writing. You have a unique voice in your writings.

Regards
Aminah

Salaam
Aminah

Sangita Thapa's picture

Agree!

The worsening situation of women and girls can only be improved by education. Deaths of many under-aged and teen married girls is but a reflection of our impoverished socio-cultural and traditional legacies. Thanks for reading and commenting Aminah. Im obliged.

usha kc's picture

Dear sis, you have utterly

Dear sis,
you have utterly flashed the reality of Nepalese girls' in short piece ; The picture you have shared, statistic you have mentioned speak a lot.
Your voice is strong ,, pls keep it on.

Good luck!
love

Sangita Thapa's picture

Thanks di!

I am so pampered by the love and attention you all have given to my post. In fact I never felt confident enough. But then, you all are here to inspire and encourage me. I'm humbled. Thank you so much for your comment.

libudsuroy's picture

Hello, Sangita, It is good to

Hello, Sangita,
It is good to see that your empathy for the girls and women in your country is connected to your struggle for self-expression. In a way, each time you write, you enable other voices to come through. May the ghosts within find their peace in your sense of responsibility and commitment. Thank you for this piece!

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Sangita Thapa's picture

Thanks!

Thank you for reading and commenting on my post Libudsuroy, much appreciated! :)

jampa's picture

Powerful

This is a powerful piece with enlightening solutions for girls' education.
Thanks for sharing dear Sangita,
Beautiful one,
Jampa

Sangita Thapa's picture

Thank you Jampa for reading

Thank you Jampa for reading and commenting on my post. :)

Veronique_S's picture

Powerful and Enlightening!!

Like Jampa and Stacey your article was both of two worlds "Enlightening and Powerful". Your article was a journey that captivated my attention, from the onset through to the conclusion.
At the conclusion your identity for change entertained a poetic flare in some lines, great use of figure of speech.

At the desk where I write, I feel emotional with your words, that there is someone who desire change from the very bowels of compassion.

Trust that you become a contributor to the change and all the resource necessary be made available for it. Best wishes on what is a first step to realizing that dream.

With tremendous gratitude
~Veronique

Sangita Thapa's picture

So Kind!

Thank you so much Veronique for reading my post with that interest and fervour. You're so kind. I was full of doubt if i could at all express myself, but your encouraging comments have freed me from that very doubt. Thanks a million dear! would love to read from you too.

Falchemist's picture

Not guilty.

You need not feel guilty, dear Sangita. Women are made to feel guilty, far too often, about things for which we hold no responsibility. All over the world, women are made to feel guilty for much of the abuse and violence that we are forced to endure on a daily basis - rape, domestic abuse, for example. We are made to feel bad when we do well and when we don't, when we succeed and no matter what choice we make.
That you speak for those who are not allowed to, that you write for those are not permitted to learn, is what you get to do. Yes, there are responsibilities. It is heartwarming and encouraging to hear you acknowledge that.

Sangita Thapa's picture

Dear Falchemist!

Thank you so much for reading and putting your kind words. Yes, I felt guilty because many women and girls are deprived of education and this privilege we call digital technology. How wonderful it would be if they could write, speak and be admired for their thoughts as we do here in WorldPulse!

amymorros's picture

A Battle

Thanks for writing this. It gets the readers attention for sure. And I was not aware of the extent of the problem in Nepal. I liked how you mentioned REAL participation and what that means for women.

Please keep doing what you're doing and I look forward to more contributions from you on World Pulse.

Amy
@amyinstl

Sangita Thapa's picture

Yes Amy!

Real participation is one of the most important issue of Nepalese governance. Women's participation is ensured de jure but is yet to be materialized de facto. Thanks for your comments dear!

Lea's picture

Thank you!

This a wonderfully written and throughtful piece, Sangita!
Thank you for sharing your story with us and for telling us what the situation is for women and girls in Nepal. Unfortunately, I wasn't aware that child marriage and limited access to an education are very common occurrences. Women and girls should be empowered, not shunned because of their gender. They should embrace who they are and be encouraged to speak out and to fight for their right to an education.
That's why women like you who have a strong desire to see change in your society are so important because you have the ability to make a difference and give a voice to those who are silenced. Remember that you have the power to take a stand and to express all the feelings, emotions, and words that all those women and girls wish they could express, but wouldn't dare to for fear of the consequences.
Keep going!
Lea

Sangita Thapa's picture

thanks Lea!

Im so glad that you read and made time to comment. Much appreciated! I hope to hear stories from your community too. I'd like to know more about France and the situation of women there. Happy writing dear Lea.

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