वुकम्प पछि को माया (Love after the quake)
“As a girl, she should obey and seek protection of her father, as a young woman her husband, and as a widow her son”
They were laying in the grass, barefoot. Young and in love. The evening was getting chilly and she wrapped herself up warm in his jacket, too big for her tiny frame.
The Nepali civil code is guided by Hindu law, which sees women as a property of men since birth, either their fathers and eventually their husbands. The Nepali society hinges on extreme patriarchal ideology and operates harsh and painful devaluation of women. Women and girls have little to no access to education and are denied control of their own bodies, health care choices and ultimately, their lives.
Gender inequality and discrimination affect areas such as the justice system, the public sector and the home environment. The brand new Constitution of Nepal, released in 2015, explicitly discriminates against women as the child of a Nepali woman is not entitled citizen- ship by descent. Misogyny and the role of women in the Nepali society as second-class citizens is clearly evident.
Nowadays, the Internet is a window to the world and the rules of communication have dramatically changed. Awareness among the new generation of Nepali women as to equal rights is rising while gender stereotyping remains entrenched in society. These women won’t let patriarchy humiliate them. Their cry for justice is loud and clear in an environment that is deaf to their pleas.
Open-minded, curious and clearheaded, Maya, longs for freedom. She feels trapped in a society bent on forcing her to not be herself and stay in her role. Her story delves into the implications of a generation of Nepali women deprived of their own identity, in search of their own denied essence, for the very fact of being female.
“I am a 21 year old girl from Nepal. I love my country. But it makes me sick to think about how, in the same home, my brother has more freedom than me for the fact of being a boy.
Our duties are predefined by society, tradition and cultural systems. Our rights remain limited by the male authority. I cannot help but long to be free, wishing to be treated equally. I want to be free from a society that dictates that my father’s house will no longer be my home once married, while it will still be my brother’s. I want to escape a society that ostracizes its daughters and privileges its sons. Sometimes I wish I could fly like those birds, free and happy, and disappear into the blue.
I know I should feel lucky for not being born in those parts of my country where girls are banished during their period. I should feel lucky to be able to access education and health care when most girls from rural areas have no idea of what that even is. I should feel lucky for not being one of those girls who were sold inside and outside the country into sex slavery and forced labour. I should feel lucky for not being one of those girls whose life revolves around their husbands, at home.
But if I had to consider myself lucky for all these things, what about that feeling of fear I am forced to feel every day? What about not even being able to walk through my own neighborhood as something bad may happen to me ‘in the outside world’? But these are only excuses imposed by society to keep me subdued.
I have always felt I deserve more out of life and this is not the best of it. I deserve to live my life in whatever way pleases me and I deserve to be free and wild and do all the things boys are allowed to do. I want to fall in love with someone without having to hide or worry about my own future. I want to look forward to the next adventure without being supervised by my parents and a hundred adults. I want to have the right to make each and every decision of my life on my own. I want to pursue my dream without being controlled and I want to share it with someone who believes in me and supports my choices. Because in the end, all I want is freedom. Not protection.”
Maya, 21. Kathmandu.