Struggle For Gender Equality

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Yug Bahadur

Crimes against women, who are called the ‘fairer sex’, are really most inhumane acts and such crimes must not be tolerated by any person, including the victims or their family members. But sadly, many such cases go unreported because of the huge social pressure on the victims and this is another setback in fighting this crime. This author has hobnobbed with dozens of activists who have worked for women’s rights and also read not only in TRN in these days now about this issue, but also has gone through reams of reports and other materials regarding violence against women and other related issues.

Harassments and violence against women are real heart-wrenching thing, which is most inhumane and like mentioned by most people, such acts should not only be condemned, but also punished in the most severe manner possible. One candidate in Kathmandu in the recently held election had boldly stated on camera that there should be a ‘death sentence’ against criminals like rapists. This may sound too much of a harsh judgment, but in some ways this man may be striking closer home, though it may make some people uncomfortable in hearing such a statement.

Leniency 

It may be mentioned here that there is no death sentence against any crime in this country. That Nepal is quite lenient on many crimes is there for all to see, when other more conservative nations give the death sentence to even individual caught with some small amount of illegal drugs, our own law and order authorities are involved mostly in arresting women who opt for abortion, gamblers enjoying in their own houses or consenting couples seeking a safe haven in some hotels or lodges, but they tend to overlook more vicious crimes, specially organised financial crimes.

To go to another aspect of these types of crimes, especially the crimes committed due to gender inequality, we must sadly admit that it may take generations to do away with such an attitude of the society against women. And this holds true not only in Nepal and socially conservative countries, but also in the much developed world, where women have strong laws to protect them from a biased look at this issue.

First of all, a biased sense of view has been drilled deeply inside the minds of the people on the role that women should play in the society and how they should behave themselves within a family or in the outside world. The biggest tragedy is that even women tend to believe in such practices, not fully realising how unfair the society is behaving against them. In our own recently held election, there were very few female candidates and less than a dozen of them won and represent women in the House of Representatives.

The presence of women in politics is important, but more important is the need for the attitude of the society to change as far as the role of the women in society is concerned. It was reported in TRN and some other news outlets of how many ideas were put forth by the stakeholders in curbing the violence against female media persons in the internet and social media. This is a very unfortunate thing and voices being raised now will surely prompt the authorities to control such undesired attacks against women working in the media field.

Talking of the media, no one can now disagree that it plays an important role in creating certain illusions about the role of women in the society, and no one can either deny that the media has a very strong role in creating stereotype activities in every sector of the society. For example, mere fictional TV serials have influenced both men and women in Nepal too. While the males have always been dominant, their families have been affected more by such media messages which portray a wrong role of the women in our still conservative society. From a changing lifestyle to fashion and enjoying festivals, all have been affected by the media, especially the visual media, and many believe in what the fictional characters are doing is right, where as they in fact are disturbing harmony in a traditional family and misleading those who are unaware of the money earning intentions of such media serials. 

Foreign influence 

But of course, we are not blaming such media outlets alone, other factors, especially foreign influence, are too affecting the simple lifestyle and down to earth character of Nepali women. Again, this writer has nothing against who want to change themselves, especially the women who have lived for centuries under the shadow of the men who they consider their ‘protectors’ and breadwinners. The thing is, all changes in not only in the male dominated society, but in all other sectors too, the changes have to come gradually and not thrust down the neck of a community. 

Even in politics, we can see that the presently developed countries with a very sound and people-friendly system have come about in a gradual manner. The leaders of these nations have shown vision in developing their country and making the right decisions, giving rights to their people and even in introducing of major political reforms. Yes, we must move twice more faster in every sector to really develop our nation, but at the same time we cannot act in haste. Programmes like the ones held by women journalists to control crimes against women is good, and we can hope that with the pressure of different groups and also the efforts of the government, there will be some sense of semblance in gender equality, if not total freedom from this curse of the society.

(Yug Bahadur is a freelance writer.)

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