I am a feminist, loud and proud, because I am for a society where everyone is treated equally and I choose to work towards gender equality.
So what is gender equality? It’s simple. Everyone is equal and no one is treated differently just because of their gender.
This is where I find a problem when it comes to feminism in Nepal; when we say “Don’t treat differently,” what comes to mind immediately is, “Don’t suppress, don’t discriminate, don’t restrict, etc.”, but it can also mean “Don’t treat someone specially just because of their gender, don’t privilege someone just because of their gender”, right?
But then, no. We don’t want to lose the special treatment we get for being girls, we don’t want to lose the privilege we enjoy for being girls. We want to have them granted. We want to enjoy the freedom, the independence; we want to do whatever we want to do, but when it comes to responsibility that comes along with the freedom and liberty, when it comes to the consequences that come along with the choices made, we want to be protected, defended, treated ‘like a girl’: sympathetically, gently, dedicatedly, taken to a safe island and make to feel like nothing ever happened.
That’s what feminism movement from Nepal has been promoting. We want property rights, but we don’t like to talk about responsibility towards parents. We want reservations, but we don’t want to talk about liability. We want freedom to do anything and everything we want, but we want compensation if anything goes wrong because of our wrong choices.
That’s not what feminism is about. Feminism is an idea where females are treated as equal to males and ‘equal’ also means shares on bad and toughness.
We must tell our girls the harsh truth of life and still stand by them through all thicks and thins, fighting for equality, ready for responsibility, prepared for consequences to live one life, like humans learning through mistakes and growing through experiences.
That’s the kind of feminism I wish for Nepal.
Citizenship Act: What’s the issue
Many from Nepal seem quite confused when it comes to the debate on citizenship provision in New Constitution and I reckon that’s because the constitution came in rush without much of discourse and debates and lot other factors like nationalist rhetoric. So here is my attempt to explain everything in very simplistic way.
What constitution has said about citizenship
There are two kinds of citizenship:
- Citizenship by descent.
- Naturalized citizenship
What’s the difference
Citizenship by descent is quite superior to naturalized citizenship in sense, in order for a person to be elected, nominated or appointed to the office of President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief of State, Chief Minister, Speaker of a State Assembly, and chief of a security body, the person must have obtained the citizenship of Nepal by descent.
Which basically means if you have naturalized citizenship, you can never become President or Prime Minister or Chief Justice or anything mentioned above. Naturalized citizenship is basically designed for people who would like to obtain Nepali citizenship though didn’t have ancestral root in Nepal.
Ya, in a way, it makes sense for not letting naturalized citizen to become president of Nepal or Prime Minister of Nepal. Up to here, no issue.
So what’s the issue
This is the most complex part. So let’s go slow from here.
Neha and Raj are siblings. They both got married and both have children from their respective partners. As their children reached 18, they both went to get citizenship by descent for their children.
Neha’s child can get citizenship by descent if:
Clause a. Her husband holds Nepali citizenship.
Clause b. Her child was born in Nepal.
Clause c. Father of her child is not traceable.
Which means, Neha’s child can never get citizenship by descent even though she herself is citizen by descent if:
1. Her husband is a foreigner.
2. Her child was born outside Nepal.
3. She didn’t want to lie or hide father’s identity.
So, Neha must prove that either her husband is Nepali, or her child was born in Nepal, or she should simply lie that she does not know where the father of her child is. If she fails to provide any, her child will only get naturalized citizenship which means her child can never ever become president or prime minister of Nepal.
Whereas, Raj’s child can get citizenship by descent without any clause.
Can you see the difference??
Do we ask the same question to a man? “if he is married to a foreigner, he should get citizenship for his child from his wife’s country. Why Nepal?”
We don’t. Why? Because we are culturally wired in patriarchy.
Sufferers of this constitutional provision will not be Nepali girls marrying Nepali guys. Sufferers will be the following:
- A Nepali girl married to a foreign guy and got abandoned later with a child.
- A Nepali girl, who while working abroad, got impregnated through exploitation.
- A Nepali girl, who wants her child to be remained as Nepali though married to a foreigner.
- A couple (Nepali woman and foreign man) who wants to settle in Nepal and helps their children grow and reach to their full potential as freely and openly as any Nepalese couple by descent.
This will not be a case if is a Nepali man. If his wife (foreigner) abandons him, his child can still get citizenship by descent. If he wants his child to remain as Nepali though married to a foreigner, he can make that happen. If he wants to settle in Nepal with his foreign gf/wife , he can and still help his children grow and dream to their full potential as freely and openly as any Nepalese couple by descent.
Another issue is,
There is a provision though that will let child from such women get citizenship by descent. All she has to do is lie and tell “I don’t know where the father is.”
11.5 A person who is born in Nepal from a woman who is a citizen of Nepal and has resided in Nepal and whose father is not traced shall be provided with the citizenship of Nepal by descent.
How awful, sad, frustrating, and sick can a constitutional clause be that is designed to work as loophole, to encourage contempt, practice lies, and make someone feel terrible?? Why can’t her child be given that goddamn citizenship by descent without too much drama and questioning??
There are thousands of Nepali women married to Indian men. Now what?? we give citizenship by descent to all those children?? No way!!
Boom! Nationalist rhetoric.
Why can’t we set uniform criteria for both male and female? Maybe something like, a child, whose father or mother is of foreign nationality, must have stayed in Nepal for X number of years to qualify for citizenship by descent. That would be win win for all.
To sum it up,
A brother gets married to an American girl. A sister gets married to a Korean guy. They both have babies from their respective partners. After some years, they got divorced.
Brother comes back to Nepal with his child and sister with her child.
18 years passed since then. Child from both have grown up. Time to get the citizenship. Brother’s child gets citizenship by descent and sister’s child gets naturalized citizenship. One can dream to become president of Nepal or Prime minister, and another’s can’t….just because she is not man.
That’s discrimination. Please don’t justify it showing people from other side of borders.
Running Off the Track
In a race, the most important rule for any player is to run on and along the lane. If players run out of their lane, they will be disqualified. If we apply this criterion as a prerequisite to our current government, what result will we get? Will the KP Oli led government still qualify?
There are several factors responsible for the landslide victory of NCP in the federal elections. The prosperity rhetoric, hyper notion of stable government, nationalist image of K.P. Oli and the unification of two major communist parties are some that benefitted them. It made people trust and immensely believe in them. People voted the NCP with a great enthusiasm and hope that the country will have a better future if they come to power. Today, the NCP is ruling in 6 out of 7 Provinces and KP Oli leads the powerful federal government. The party solely has near to two-third majority in the House of Representatives and more than two-third majority in the National Assembly. And after one year of their reign to power, a fundamental question has and needs to be raised. Has their performance in the federal and provinces been splendid as expected? Are the promises made to people during elections being delivered?
The answers aren’t positive at all. People have lots of expectation with the NCP but it is repeatedly indulging into affairs that doesn’t address the vital concerns of common people. For instance, People desperately wanted syndicate to be gone. The Government promised to put an end to it but didn’t do much for strictly implementing their own decision. People lately realized that it was nothing but a hype, promoted by the Home Ministry. Several major policies and programmes of the government have met the same fate. The massively advertised and equally criticised Social Security Scheme has failed to attract private sector, its workers and employees. Economists highly suspect that the 120 day-unemployment allowance scheme introduced by government would actually help reduce unemployment from the country.
PM Oli and his cabinet has time and again proved their incompetence as an administrator. People have seen and felt a rapid increment in corruption and criminal conducts. Impunity is on the rise as convicts of corruption are allowed to freely roam around and court-convicted murderers are pardoned by the President. There was no quick response from government and concerned authorities on the recent Nakkhu bomb blast incident that injured three innocent pedestrians. Biplov – Maoist, taking responsibility of that criminal conduct which claimed the life of one innocent person, termed it “a minor mistake”. The government was very late to condemn this terrorist act. This proves its failure to adopt adequate and viable measures to obstruct such adversity and maintain peace and security in the country. At one point, it seemed as if the government is more concerned about regulating social media than securing the lives of people of this country.
At this point, the Oli – led government seems very confused on its core mission. Even someone like CK Raut has trapped the Prime Minister to set himself free from the bars. After amassing much failure on almost every front of governance, one thing where the government seems to be most successful, is at creating controversies. In this one year, people have seen the President, head of the constitutional bodies and the entire cabinet involved into nasty controversies. Even the judiciary became a part of it resulting in a series of conflict for several months. Though this has come to an end for now, it has diminished its dignity and trust from among people. Today, the Prime Minister is seen freely scoffing and mocking his critics and the opposition but there is a bill registered in Parliament that proposes to punish people for their posts in Social Media. Another bill tabled in the parliament creates barrier to acquire citizenship through mother. The cadres of NCP are seen publicly threatening singers to remove their “anti-government” songs from YouTube.
The government is busy staging an unclothed dance of power while the opposition is weak and dumb to play its role. All that is left for people is grievances and outrage.
Kanyadaan – Donation of daughter
During one of my regular scrolls on Instagram, I came across a beautiful couple’s wedding photos. It was a normal, beautiful Hindu wedding that suddenly led me wondering about Kanyadaan. ‘Kanyadaan’ was just another normal word for me until I realized how it is made up of two words: ‘kanya’ and ‘daan’. I was tempted to Google about it and what came up next on my smart screen shook me to the core.
‘Kanya’ means a maiden and ‘daan’ is donation. So literally, Kanyadaan is the donation of girls. As per my near and dear ones and the internet, Kanyadaan is supposed to be the highest honor that a girl’s parents can ever receive to cleanse out their sins. After donating your daughter to the groom, your pathway to the heaven is made all clear! Someone genius on the internet also pointed out how the word starts with ‘kanya’ and not ‘stree’, denoting that only virgins can cleanse the sins of their parents. I see. Back since hundreds and hundreds of years ago till now, Kanyadaan is very much prevalent in our society. It is one of the sexist traditions that objectifies us, women. The thought of giving away your daughter makes me sick because no matter whoever she gets married to, she is still a person before being your daughter and no one has the right to give her away as if she is some sort of a property that can be passed around.
You may wonder that the definition and meaning behind it might have changed and that it does not hold true to its initial original concept but has evolved into something entirely different and welcoming? Well, how I wish it were true but no. The reason behind it is that the people don’t care; they do not know the significance behind this tradition. Kanyadaan had been followed through ages and rather than questioning it, they are easily influenced by the people to adopt the tradition largely on emotional basis. However, these days people do not follow it solely for the purpose of bringing down women but are simply not aware of it which adds up to uplifting misogyny in our society. Ignorance is the cause of almost all of the existing problems; we are never taught to question. In the name of god and purity we are ready to anything and everything without realizing how wrong we may be.
If more people came to know about the true meaning behind this sexist tradition, I bet you that Kanyadaan would definitely change into something more meaningful and welcoming, something that begins with ‘stree’ and does not end with daan.
Originally published in MyReublica
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