Today is 8th March, ‘International Women’s day’. I couldn’t manage time to write something on this very special day but I found something very appealing in my Facebook news feed. One of my friends had updated a status with an article. This article reflected ‘how Nepali girls on public vehicles are being harassed by male counterparts’ and the connection she made with the ‘Women’s day’ is very touchy. I couldn’t deny myself from publishing it in my blog.
Here’s her article regarding the Women’s Day:
“Few weeks back, I had a direct encounter with sexual harassment. Sad to say, it was one of the serious and embarrassing incident, among the myriad of harassment I went through so far. I was heading to city center, kamalpokari as my two peers were waiting there for me. We had planned to watch ‘Pasupati Prasad’ the earlier day. I took a bus from Lokanthali petrol pump bus stop that was ferrying to putalisadak. As always it was packed, one hardly gets unoccupied seats, that day was not exceptional as well.
And, it got started off. A gang of boys probably teenagers or early twenties well dressed but ill-mannered were enchanting annoyingly from the back-part of the bus. At first, I didn’t give attention what exactly they were saying and tried to ignore thinking ‘boys are boys’. Later, passing by of different stations and passenger getting on and off, I had to displace myself from the front to the rear part of the bus. I wanted to avoid those boys but the conductor was repeatedly asking me to move in. With resentment and little fear I displaced clumsily. And then, I found myself surrounded within the gang, most of them on seats with couple standing.
Seeing other mature old folks around, my dread lessened to some extent. Meanwhile, I saw a girl of my age standing by my side. I breathed in with some comfort thinking; ‘thank god I am not the only one’.
I tried hard to give damn on their activities until I figured out the songs they were enchanting and arbitrary names they were addressing to share seats with them. They were different than my straight mind could decipher. Oh my God! they were not only teasing, in fact inviting me and the girl beside me differently as if we were slut. In a daylight and within a public bus, I was startled to see those jerks fussing slang and vulgar words shamelessly. When I couldn’t endure my temper any longer, I replied a few times condemning if they don’t have any sisters or mother at home. Do they behave this way to them too? Haven’t they seen girls before? How can people be that demoralized?and many more…
I defended as far as I could but they didn’t stop. The girl and I had to share strange looks discreetly, every time our ear caught offensive words. I nearly exploded with suppressed rage, until their destination approached.
The most surprising account was the unresponsive behavior of the mature folks nearly of my dad and uncle’s age. They seemed to be well-educated, job holders and indeed moral bunch of people. But, their indifferent attitude when two girls were being the direct victim of harassment in front of them left me with profound wonder and despair. I thought they would stop those jerks, but beyond my expectations they uttered not a single word. I could do nothing beside lamenting and regretting being born as girl and being so helpless at that very moment.
This is just a glimpse I have shared as my experience. Many young girls and women travel everyday either for study or work. Not everyone in personal vehicle and not always accompanied. We are compelled to pass through different types of harassment; teasing, whistling, touching, abusing and many more. We defend, we contend when it is unbearable but at the same time we fear of getting back-stabbed or being victims of revenge someday. Growing news about rape and murder cases around the country has discouraged us to fight back and we prefer choosing silence than digging out problem on our own.
I just don’t want to blame those boys only; society who have raised them, who have fostered the culture of dominating female is equally liable to be blamed. Our patriarchal society has tendency to overlook the activities of male counterparts even if they commit immoral acts. While we are questioned on every single step we take, just because we are born as girl. We feel privileged that our constitution has given us special women rights. But, at the same-time it is saddening to acknowledge these rights are only seldom practiced. We don’t expect big things to happen, but, we want dignity and social justice in reality and practice. Not just paper’s gender equality.
Lastly, to all male colleagues out there, will you be more liberal and generous to every women you meet up on your way down? like yours they are somebody’s mother, sister or aunt. Lets not be social media elites and intellectuals who posts ‘Aja naari diwas, respect them guys, they meant a lot for us’. And in reality disrespect and dominate her, rape and eventually kill her. Lets not be someone who gives bombastic speech on women rights in public and commit domestic violence at home. Furthermore, let’s not be someone who boasts about gender equality and do partiality among son and daughter.
It is us, you and me, our society’s time to transcends our orthodox perspective and notion regarding women. Lets develop a culture of respecting every women. They are not alien, they are just like you and me, a mere human being. Don’t they deserve extra respect???”
By: Manshi Subba