Men in Nepal rule! I mean that in every sense of the word. We rule most spheres of public and private lives of most females (and children) in the country.
The hill caste hindu men, for example, have always ruled in the past and continue to rule the political arena and the three pillars of the government. No wonder, we have a State that considers and treats women as if they were second class citizens. Men also overwhelmingly govern the media (the fourth pillar of a democracy) and media houses, the entertainment industry, the business houses etc.
In her private life, before marriage, whether as a girl or a woman, her father or brothers come before she does and exerts significant control over her life and decisions. As an adult, once married, her husband comes before her. Even her in-laws come before her, including her mother-in-law, another woman in the house!
With financial independence a holy grail for most woman, they have to rely on men for financial support, life opportunities, including a professional career.
In this third blog post on #16DaysOfActivism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign this year (click here for the first, and here for the second), I am reproducing the story of one ambitious, driven, and courageous young adult-woman whose dreams were shattered and her potential squashed by a man. (I originally posted the story on Facebook on September 20.)
I make observations and commentaries because what I see I cannot un-see, not anymore. I ask questions because that’s what I was taught to do by many amazing teachers and professors (some of whom changed my destiny).
So, here’s yet another question.
Yesterday evening I was at another one of The Story Yellers’ sessions. One of the Story Yellers was Bhawana Shrestha.
From when she had been a little child, Shrestha had dreamt of working on television. She realized her dream when she indeed got into TV journalism at her local television station. After four solid years of experience under her belt, she came to Kathmandu with big dreams of going national.
Job hunting, she refused to rely on any “connection” to arrange for a position or to rely on someone highly placed to put in a “good word” on her behalf because of the self-respect she had for herself. And, naturally, she struggled greatly, of course, not only to land a job and/or interviews, but also for a number of other reasons.
Regardless, she managed to secure an interview for a position at one of the major TV stations in the city; she didn’t say which one. And that interview put the breaks on her dream and drive!
Towards the end, the male interviewer asked her, “Working at a TV station requires doing late nights regularly, can you?”
He followed that up by moving closer, and, looking at her chest instead of her eyes, repeated the question. It was abundantly clear to her what he was insinuating and asking. Following the interview, she gave up her dreams of furthering her career on TV in Kathmandu and going national.
How many Nepali women have had and continue have their careers stalled by men in positions of power and influence as happened to Shrestha? How many?
How many have had their potential squashed by the men in their lives? How many by their father, their brothers, their boyfriend, their husband? How many by their male colleagues, their male superiors, or, as in the above case, by the (male) gatekeepers, such as the interviewer, in that very exact way?
And that, as far as I am concerned, constitutes a form of violence!
What do you think?