A question to all generations
It’s the second wave of the Covid pandemic, worsening uncertainty to any extent possible. Everyone might not be aware of the pandemic having unequal, multiple, compounding, and unmeasurable impacts. Since we are not much exposed to media, amidst the financial and health news the marginalized groups and poor people are far to be heard. I am sure the impacts are unequal as per classes, geography, and countries. Today I will be sharing my story, well in fact a turnover of my life.
Basically, all my friends from the village started marrying one by one. I don't know what is the connection between marriage and lockdown. A lot of marriages had a common share of factors like emulation, the perfect age for marriage, so-called surpassing legal age, cost-efficient marriage, and appropriately in their words, managing the burden of the house, the daughters. Women and girls face a disproportionate burden in the country's policy, moreover in an emergency situation. My grandmother wanted me to marry as it is considered the gateway to heaven. She doesn’t realize her wish for heaven made me pass the hell.
I was always taught to be a good daughter. This trend of good daughters was handed to me from generation to generation. It was symbolized by my grandmother stepping on child marriage and giving birth to literally 7 daughters before getting a son. Or my mother worrying about society's assumptions and fear of polygamy until she bore a son on her third attempt. Like any earlier generations, my marriage was accidental or unplanned or worst case marriage, I don’t know how to put it in words. It was just a few days before the lockdown happened, I was walking from my school along the narrow road of my village. Three teenage boys and two adults bumped. I wasn’t provoking men wearing short dresses or hinting at them as my grandmother says, ‘’asking for it’’ nor I was eavesdropping or looking at their actions or words, I was just walking on the road as my mother had suggested in those cases. They made me dirty. With a lot of emotional turmoil, accusations, and allegations on me I stepped out alone to file a complaint. Since the lockdown happened, police couldn’t follow up as it didn’t come under any emergency health services.
My parents believed that the best option for stopping more humiliation was to marry the lead rapist. I don’t know what kind of justice it was but I remained helpless. I got married to this lusty vulture. He used to abuse me verbally and we often had violent intercourse, of course without consent. This consent thing is considered rubbish by my elders as they firmly believe keeping your man happy is the ultimate of a woman’s life. This man, my husband hits me every day but I can’t file a complaint to him because now he is my husband. I was already gone through humiliation and he was my only way out. One cannot easily file a complaint against a family member as easily as one advertisement brings forthright. You know what it is to be a homely woman in Nepal, handing over your life’s major decisions to someone else. I grew a baby inside me. We did a gender identification test and it was a girl. He felt a girl would be big trouble for a poor household like his. That expense, dowry, education, health care costs, the responsibility of protecting, and at the end handing over to someone else is just not worth keeping. So we went to abort the child. I didn’t want to obviously, but my mom got me convinced to show a good wife thing. More than that, I agreed because I didn’t want her to regret her life as I faced it. The abortion was done by some local quacks as the movements were restricted. I wanted to prepare my body for the next fertilization but a walk for a few hours towards a health post for Depo- Provera injection was not possible during the lockdown. He hesitates to put on any other family planning methods because he believes it would make the experience less pleasurable. In the following year, I gave birth to a boy. I felt powerful all of a sudden, I don’t know why. Or is it the fallacy society imposed upon me?
I am a normal woman luckily able to complete her high school but due to the systems being made, I feel suffocated. I find it funny witnessing whatever educated, aware and influential people advocating for rights are willingly afraid to take charge of their own life. You know there is a difference between practicing and preaching. I saw it when I was working as a maid at one of such influential people’s houses. On the night, when I saw her speech in the news using heavy revolutionary words, I nearly choked on my food. Why are women cuffed in bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health rights before marriage and even after marriage? Can we achieve gender equality without these? No! Without a second thought. A cry on gender equality would make no difference if youths remain unheard. Why is there so much guilt that generation passes when women try to take care of themselves? Why were my grandmothers taught a way harmful for their mental and physical health? Why did my mothers deny the wave of women empowerment? Why did I settle for the worst-case scenario? Are we that weak enough to make choices on our rights and bodily autonomy? Okay. Forget about big things. How many of us are made literate enough about Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). Are we taught about comprehensive and sexual health in schools? About the nation's legal procedures and rights related to these topics, at least the basics? How much information is available on the internet? Aren’t we overloaded and underloaded with information, not perfect information, and importantly, which is the genuine one to be considered? Or how many of us have an internet connection?
I feel fortunate to have the authority to shape a new generation. I will let my son learn a new mindset that I want to see as a change. ‘’Men will be men’’, ‘’men don’t cry’’, ‘’Some notorious activities are birthright to men’’ etc, I am not letting him learn this.This process of me unlearning, learning, and relearning is what is needed for generation equality in society. That's what I am going to teach my son. I don’t care if he becomes a topper or not but I will definitely teach words like consent, rights, respect, gender identities, sexual orientations, relationship management, justice, and so on that our earlier generations kept a distance from. Teaching young
girls won’t create a ripple until men are brought to the table, only one-sided empowerment wouldn't be successful until the failure of the system of hypocrisy to men is served. It’s my subtle movement from within to world policy. I will respect the decisions my daughter-in-law would make for her body health and willingness to make choices. I vow on that. If I had kept my daughter, I don’t know if I would have prepared her to face the world or to escape from the world. But I know one fact for sure, I would unlearn so many things society taught us to be a good daughter. I would still be happy seeing a bad daughter but keep her mental ability, right, dignity, and health above all.
I have a question for all the generations till date, ‘’If God didn’t bias us in giving us a decision- making center brain, the equivalent to a man, why is the environment unwilling to give authority for all the bodily functions and body where this mind remains???