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Hooray! Hooray! It’s Holi Holi Day…For Some

Holi is the Hindu festival of color and, as such, it’s supposed to be a day of “celebrations” (see reference below for a short, interesting history). It’s celebrated both in Nepal and India.

We in Nepal celebrated ours last Sunday, March 12.

But for many girls and women in the Indian Subcontinent — whether local or foreign — a celebration Holi is not!

I discovered and learned that, recently, via a foreign journalist’s tweet thread describing her ordeal that day.

Here’s the thread.

Click here for the original.

And here, also from the thread, is a tweet by a Nepalese woman saying why, for that reason, she stays home during Holi.

Another example of a Nepalese woman who chooses to stay home, followed by another one who, rightly, describes the general victim-blaming attitude of Nepalese, especially when the victim is a girl or woman.

I responded to the thread.

(Only recently, suicide claimed a young girl at our organization COMMITTED‘s project site in Sindhupalchok.)

On that same day, I discovered a survey which I also tweeted.

(Click here to go to the survey directly if interested in taking it. There is still time, the deadline is March 18.)

I followed that thread up with the following tweet that evening.

To expand on the tweet…

What percentage of our girls & women stay home during Holi because of fear of sexual harassment?

How many girls and women last Sunday had the kind of emotionally, mentally, and psychologically scaring and deeply troubling experience that Corrinne Redfern had? How many?

How many have had that experience to date? How many?

How many of them have been blamed for the experience? How many?

And to put the spotlight on the boys and men.

How many boys and men go out during Holi because of the potential for cheap thrills, groping and sexually harassing girls and women? (For most, they can’t be more than just cheap thrills, though, I’m sure, for some there is also the element of power play — Nepal, after all, is a highly patriarchal society.)

How many go out with the express intention of sexually harassing girls and women?

What’s more, the problem is probably NOT limited only to Holi.

We have other festivals, such as Indra Jatra, pulling of the Machindranath chariot, Krishna Jayanti, Bhoto Jatra, to name just a few, and public events, open air concerts and parties, where huge crowds gather. Large crowds provide both really close physical proximity, therefore the opportunity, and the necessary anonymity and shield, predators with a proclivity for such anti-social behaviors are looking for.

The consequences for girls and women, in most cases, is devastating! But most in this highly patriarchal society will blame the victim…for her poor judgement.

The reality, however, is that we are failing to create an environment, a society, a culture where girls and women also feel as safe as boys and men!

What do you think?

 

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References:

Not referenced in the post but relevant….

Feminism in India (no date). Reading Caste In Holi: The Burning Of Holika, A Bahujan Woman. A short history of Holi, about which, I must admit, I didn’t know anything!

BuzzFeed (Jan. 2017). Indian Parents Aren’t Raising Their Sons Right, And It’s Endangering India’s Women. Beautifully written piece published in the wake of the mass molestations in Bangalore on New Year’s Eve. To make it applicable to Nepal, all you have to basically do is replace Indian with Nepalese. In other words, her descriptions of her (Indian) society and of their attitude towards and treatment of females is pretty much a description of Nepal. What she recommends in order for her society to make social progress, therefore, is also relevant — and applicable — to Nepalese society.

 

 

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