Why So Unequal?

By Rhijuta D

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(Photo credit: Rhijuta D)

I check myself in the mirror. What I am wearing is pretty acceptable in the West, but I have to add an extra layer  because I am living in the East. Figure hugging outfits are not what you step outside your house from, especially if you have curves.  Fair enough, I respect the culture and I try not to offend other people’s eyes (men and women).

I am walking late at night. I am accompanied by a male and  female friend.  Most people I see are men.  Usually groups of two or three. They don’t say anything to us because we have a male figure walking with us.

This one time, a group of men walked by closely, most other times, I try to walk out of the way so they don’t walk so close to me.

I watched Emma Watson’s speech, like her, my father didn’t love me less because I was born a girl, and my teachers didn’t expect me to perform differently because I was a girl. I certainly didn’t think there was a limitation to my career because one day I might have a child. Although, I know even in the most developed country, there is a subtle form of gender stereotypes. But I am not in the West anymore.

I live in the East. In a country where women with big breasts feel obliged to wear an extra layer of clothing or cover it with a shawl/ scarf because why should she be walking around making others feel uncomfortable. Or in other words she should have some ‘laaj’. Laaj is shame. I don’t understand, why is this ‘laaj’ meant to be felt by the woman? Shouldn’t the guy and his luring eyes with his dirty thoughts feel ‘laaj’. I really don’t understand.

I am living in a country where a woman cannot pass down her citizenship to her children if the father is not from the same country, how dare she even fall in love with a foreigner?

I live in a country  where some women get up at 5 am, cook for their family, get their children ready for school, come to work, go home and cook for their family again in the evening.  The husband is there, but why can he not share some responsibility? It’s not like she is sitting at home doing nothing all day.

I keep overhearing people saying ‘chori manche bhayera….’. This translates to ‘being a woman….’

I hear disapprovals upon a couple wishing to marry each other living together abroad. They say the woman is impure now, why is he marrying her? As if the guy is always pure no matter how many partners he has had. And they are in love. That’s why you marry someone, not because the girl is a virgin.

When I was younger, I used to sit with my friends at family gatherings and the elders would say, “why don’t you girls make tea for everyone?”

A woman who speaks up is ‘khai, ali arkai khalko’ (bit different)

A woman has two choices, either not give a sh** about what her in-laws think and lose her family members or actually do what is expected of her.

A woman leaves her husband, whether she’s at fault or not, why is it always her fault in Nepal? I don’t understand.

Why so unequal?

 

9 thoughts on “Why So Unequal?

  1. Richa says:

    I appreciate your observations. When I am in Nepal, I too add layers and don’t dress as I normally would here in CA. I am petite with not many curves and men still leered at me. It’s like no matter what you do, how you dress, the creepy leering still persists.

  2. Bandana Upadhya says:

    It is the sad truth that in Nepal (and in many other countries, even the supposedly developed ones) have two different rules for men and women, with women getting the harsher end of deals! Women are born disadvantaged by the mere fact that they are women. I appreciate your frustrations. I have on many occasions being labelled as the ‘rebel’ due to my outspoken nature. Though I hope to continue standing up for myself and other women. I also hope to set a good example to my peers. Our culture doesn’t make us, we make our culture.

  3. you know what frustrates me the most is people use that as an ‘cultural excuse’ that girls are culturally expected to ‘make tea, stay home, never speak up’..and dont even get me started on the whole citizenship issue. common Nepal, get it together at least over such basic matter, citizenship is everyones basic birth right….no?

    • Richa P says:

      When I was in Nepal and wanted to extend my visa through familial ties, they wouldn’t allow me to use my maternal side. Even though, I had proof that I was born in Nepal, my mother was born in Nepal. I took my mamas and had my grandfather’s information too. It was so frustrating, they said it didn’t matter, even with all the evidence. With my father’s side, even with less evidence, they took it without a blink of an eye.

  4. The double standards and sexism that Nepali women face everyday is just endless. It doesn’t look it will change sometime soon as vast majority of women and girls don’t even realize how much they’re being discriminated against, let alon the men. But we can certainly be hopeful since the situation is improving, albeit slowly.

    • I hope so! Yes, I think many females also see themselves as inferior. We need to start changing that, have changes happen within in immediate households and move onto to larger communities.

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