Perks of having a long hair

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There was a campaign by the Nepal police in 2013, they were taking the men with long hair and piercings into custody and had chopped off their hair and taken off their piercings. 711 men were taken into custody in a single day on 26 February.

My name is Faizar Sharma and I don’t understand why the colleges in Nepal are not allowing males to have long hairs. Let me tell you something that is ironic, many colleges teach their students to fight against the stigma and stereotypical thinking of the society but are not letting their students to have long hair. It’s funny, isn’t it?

I have been travelling to different places of Nepal. During those visits I met some people who were against me because of my long hair. But after talking with them after a week or two, they would be kind to me and suggest me to trim my hair to look good.

I think people are not used to seeing a man with long hair so they find it difficult to adjust with someone who has long hair.(I remember an incident, one day about 6 years ago, I was going to school as usual. I saw a lady pushing her bike on the inclined road and it was difficult seeing it because she was applying full effort, but was unable to push the bike due to inclined road so I helped her. She thanked me and I was stunned by her voice because her voice sounded like a man, I was scared because I had never encountered anyone like that before. I was not used to seeing women whose voices were husky. She gave me a smile and went on. I went to school and thought about it the whole day and came to the conclusion that I wasn’t scared I was just uncomfortable because I wasn’t used to seeing that person just as some people are not used to seeing a male with long hair.

My long hair is related to my sexuality, it’s been two years I have been walking with my long hair. I have been told to trim my hair by the teachers of the schools of urban area and I have been supported to work on school in rural areas. I don’t think living in cities makes a behavioral change to end the stigma of long hairs. Behavioral change takes place when you think my long hair is not affecting anyone, when you think it is normal for boys to keep the hair.

“I have a dream that one day our brother will be allowed to keep their hair long and that they don’t have to wait until they pass their twelfth grade and join a government college because private college don’t allow you to keep long hair.”

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A culture of victim blaming

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With new cases of sexual assaults, domestic violence, harassment and rapes rising in the country and worldwide, the tendency to blame the victim of the crime (mostly women) rather than the perpetrator has also seen a steady rise.

Over the past months, there has been a number of high profile cases in the international media of violence against women that highlights the victim blaming culture that we live in. The most prominent case was of the Steubenville Ohio trial in which two male high school football players were found guilty of raping a sixteen-year old girl who was unable to give consent to sexual activity after drinking alcohol at a party.

Many individuals, both male and female, voiced their opinion and reacted to the trial and the guilty verdict by harshly blaming the young woman for being raped as she was drinking while underage. They declared that men’s innocence despite the evidence against them and blamed the victim.

Even a well renowned television new channel CNN’s reporting of the verdict gave an emphasis on the impact on the lives of the two found guilty, rather than the victim. Reporter Poppy Harlow stated” These two young men that had such promising futures….literally watched as they believed their life fell apart,” and Candy Crowley reported “What’s the lasting effect though on two young men being found guilty in juvenile court of rape essentially?”

They failed to discuss the trauma, trust issues and other lasting effect on the young woman who was raped as if she was to blame.

A similar case took place when a Swiss woman was gang raped by a group of men while camping in India with her husband. The men robbed the couple, tied up and beat the man and gang raped the woman. During the course of investigation, the local police claimed that the tourists were at least partially to be blamed, as they failed to tell the police their whereabouts.

Within this culture of victim blaming, women are told to change their behavior in order to avoid being assaulted or raped. They are told to dress modestly, drink less alcohol, not to go to parties, not put themselves in risky situations and so much more.

This proliferates the belief that women are at fault when they are attacked and thus leads a lack of accountability for men.

Instead of teaching women what not to do, we should be focusing on men and teaching them about consent and morals and to hold them accountable.

While it’s important that women continue to be empowered and educated on how to prevent rape, this education needs to be extended to men as well. Men and women need to work together to change the culture of victim blaming and help reduce violence against women.

The Red Stain

-Sajira Shrestha

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My hands and legs were trembling. My face was turning red. All the friendly faces seemed to be staring at me. I was scared to death. I was holding my tears and I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak anything. It was all because there was a red stain in my pant.

I recall the day when I had my first menstruation period. I was twelve years old and in 5th grade. My mother and sister had told me few things about menstruation. They had said it was normal for all girls and they all have gone through this but I hadn’t imagined it could be so hard for me.

It was a game period. Me and all my friends were playing in our school playground, when suddenly my best friend told me that there was a red stain in my pant. I didn’t know about it until I went to the toilet and checked it. The fear inside me had grown. I was worried about how to go to my classroom, what if my classmate especially boys will see it, what will I say to my teacher.. These questions were ringing around my head. I felt ashamed. I even cursed myself for being a girl. I felt so embarrassed and weak at that moment.

My friend went to the teacher and asked for help. My teacher called my mother and she came to the school. She asked me to change my pant and told me to go to the class and read the other periods. But as I was too embarrassed to go back to my class, I came back home.

At that time, I thought menstruation was a curse. I wondered why it would be to only girls, not boys. I felt that girls were called weaker than man due to this.

Now I am 18 years old and I know that menstrual cycle is a normal physiological process and women don’t need to be ashamed of it. It’s just a monthly series of changes a woman’s body goes through.  I want to tell my 12 year old self that you don’t need to be ashamed of that RED STAIN in your pant.

Periods in the Custody

– Nisha Adhikari

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“Menstruation: A journey of girls into womanhood”

Womanhood can be beautiful but also sometimes comes along with all those cramps, bloating, mood swings, back pain and in some cases, excessive bleeding. Luckily I have every necessary products to tackle with this or make these easier. I have medications especially designed for menstrual pain. I have sanitary pads or tampons by my table whenever I need. Modern Technology has even made easier with the period tracking apps.

But the scenario is completely different when you are locked within the certain area, where you cannot have connection with the outer world. A women in the jail, where the money given to you on daily basis is not even sufficient to have a meal for two times a day, where you may not receive even the basic necessities. Then how can we expect them to have a sanitary pads during their periods.

A women in the early age of 20 gets into the prison. Every month she bleeds. Every month she has to suffer. Every month she has to fight with the pain, all cramps and bloating. Menstruation becomes a nightmare for her because she has to deal with the discomfort she gets after the heavy bleeding. The money she earns from her work within the jail is not enough to fulfill her basic necessities. The essential diet during such periods are far away from her. Female hygiene product should be managed by themselves. The only option she has left is her old clothes to soak that blood. The same old clothes which may have remained unwashed because of lack of her access to washing facilities and she is compelled to use it in the emergency situation of so called periods.

She thinks periods as the matter of humiliation or as if it contain an element that is somehow offensive. She try her best to keep it out of her social interaction. Due to which, every month she use the improperly washed piece of cloth that do not get even shadow of the sun. She hides it in the corner of her room or at the back of the door. Somehow when she manage to buy the sanitary pads, she has to use it very wisely and for the longer duration so that it becomes sufficient for her one period.  But she is unaware of all the infections she is getting with her every another periods.

Reproductive tract infections, urinary tract infection and other fungal disease are on the way to increase her anxiety and depression.

Lack of hygiene product and forced humiliation, some women encounter in the prison setting is really upsetting and change is crucial.

Though she is within the prison because of her wrong deeds but she is still a woman and every month she bleeds. She also has the menstrual needs as if the women like us which needs to be addressed.

 

 

MENSTRUAL EQUITY

 

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WHAT DO WE WANT?

MENSTRUAL EQUITY.

 

WHEN DO WE WANT IT?

NOW!

The menstrual cycle has always been in the forefront of politics. With the National Public Radio, radio based in United States, dubbing 2015 as “the year of the periods”, many issues have been arising with how the world views and manages the menstrual cycle if women.

There’s a chance you may not be familiar with what menstrual equity is, but once you know, there’s an even bigger chance of you supporting it.

After being forced to experience periods and the symptoms with it, you would definitely agree having your periods is not a luxury. While this might be true for most of the women not all of us feel this way.

Menstrual equity is a multi-faceted solution for women all around the world.

At the basis of menstrual equity is to destigmatize the menstrual cycle. During the campaign for the 2016 presidential election of the United States, present president Donald Trump associated debate host Megyn Kelly’s aggressive questioning as a “side effect” to having her periods with his “there was blood coming out of her wherever” comment.

The fact that a comment like that from a candidate didn’t affect his campaign at all is more of a reason that we need menstrual equity now more than ever.

Still to this day people hesitate to use words such as periods, vagina, tampons, etc. It is the stigma that causes women to deal with the medical inequality of coping with their periods and the taboo behind menstrual cycle seems particularly frustrating when it comes down to money.

Most medications and medical products are tax exempt, but why aren’t feminine hygiene products? – MONEY

Women can choose between pads, tampons or menstrual cups but they can’t choose whether or not to pay what many people have dubbed the “pink tax”.

In many countries you’ll find the pink tax, due to which women pay 42% more a year than men for essential products like tampons and pads.

What is more frustrating that medicine targeted towards men such as erectile dysfunction drugs are tax exempt while female hygiene products used for menstruation are not.

When you hear outcries about inequality, you’ll often hear the argument that the underdog wants the advantage. As women, we just want what’s fair. While women are forced to take the brunt of taxes on their products, it would be easier to find Rogaine and Viagra, products catered to men, tax-free.

A tax on feminine hygiene products is an unfair tax on half the population, and hopefully, this comes to an end. And hopefully, it’s a insight.

 

 RED- Love or Danger??

Lirisha Tuladhar

Everything now around me was white… white ceiling.. white sheets.. people in white clothes… A white liquid hung above my head… attaching a white rod inserted in my arms…. It was a hospital the picture matches that of which I saw in television but this was the first time I am inside it and I didn’t like it.. So I chose to close my eyes….

Where was the red…. the last time I closed my eyes  all I saw was.. Red.. It makes me shudder to think about even now the color of red no longer denotes love as i always thought it was..

Red is danger! Red is bloodcurling.. red is fierce.. red is what makes fear run my veins.. it is what took away my mothers life..

We were the family of 5.. my father mother and we 3 sisters.. we were rich I’d say.. we had 2 cows.. 12 chickens.. a good house.. a small kitchen and a small outhouse where 6 days a month my mother.. my sisters used to go and have a secret picnic all by themselves..  when I asked they always told me.. one day you shall have yours too and I used to be delighted..

My favourite color was red.. I loved when my mother wore the red saris.. I loved my tiny red bangles.. and I loved my doll with the red ribbons on her frizzy hair.. I loved the red saris my sisters wore when they got married.. The symbol of love was red, my mother said when my sisters went away.. I loved red..

Until that day.. mother went to the secret house.. I was all alone.. father had gone for a few days to the city..  I was alone.. I was hungry.. I cooked up some rice.. but I didn’t want to eat alone.. I thought it would be a good idea to have a picnic with mother in the outhouse..

Father had never allowed me to go there when my mother and sister had their stay.. but that day he wasn’t here and I knew mother would not mind.. I packed the food and went there..

It was dark.. and the door was small… no windows..the door was shut.. I wondered if mom was not there.. I called out to her.. but there was no reply.. I knocked the small door.. still there was no reply.. just a smell that hit right up my nose..

Putting down the food I pushed open the door.. I could see my mother’s leg from the small crack of the opening.. perhaps she was asleep I thought..

Then that’s when I saw.. the leg was covered in blood.. the blood was seeping through her green sari..I pushed open the door and the pungent smell hit me hard..

More than the smell.. the empty eyes of my mother staring right back at me.. the entire leg and her body covered in red… the floor covered in blood.. her motionless hands clutching the hem of her drenched sari..

Red… everywhere was red.. and red.. my mother bled to death..

I opened my eyes.. it was white again.. I saw the face of my sister weeping beside me.. everything was alright now everything is gone.. my sister had on white.. lost were the color of love.. no longer red.. I hate the red.. It made my mother dead.. I hate the red.. The color which made my mother bled..

So red it is.. the colour the child feared.. she saw her mother bleed to death.. Is it the color to blame? As the innocent child has blamed the color that took the life?

We are mature enough to understand that it isn’t the color that we hold account of her mother’s death.. its the evil custom that hides underneath the fierceness of red.. the Chaupadi system.. The secret picnic spot, the Chaupadi for when period happens.. There wouldn’t have been a reason of death had her mother been at the safety of house taking care of her hygiene well during her periods..

The child knew not what the main reason of death was.. but we do… shouldn’t we do something more than to just sympathize the child’s loss? Shouldn’t we be eradicating this fierce red tradition that may be the next target of another child?

We need to stop the chaupadi during menstruation.. Stop the color red from changing to the color of hatred and danger.. Change it into the color of love for a better world to live in!!

A “Gender” Perspective?

Pratiksha Gurung

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If you saw a man attacking a woman physically in public would you intervene? Most likely you would. Now would you intervene if you saw a woman attacking a man?

Really?

Discussions about sexual violence in conflict overwhelmingly tend to focus on women and girls as victims and men as perpetrators. Indeed it is true that statistics support the fact that women make up the majority of victims of gender-based violence and discrimination. But what about the men and boys who are also victims? Men and boys have also been sexually abused in conflicts. We don’t know the full scale of this crisis globally and how many have experienced sexual violence precisely because this has been such a hidden issue. Sexual violence against men and boys has been reported in over 25 conflict-affected countries in the last decade. And this may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Many men complain that one keep on empowering women – but who comes to talk to them about regaining their dignity and listening to their problems?

As humanitarians, we are guided by humanitarian principles including impartiality, meaning that aid should be provided according to needs. By not considering the specific vulnerabilities and needs of men and boys in humanitarian crises alongside that of women and girls, we are violating this principle. Considering men and boys in humanitarian response is not only the principled action to take, it is also a vital part of the solution to support women and girls in crises. So why are we still so reluctant to tackle this silent crisis?

Gender Based Violence occurs as a result of normative gender based role expectations or inequality of power in relationships between genders, in a specific society or culture. However much we speak of “Gender Equality”, as far as history takes us, we have experienced a male dominated society where masculinity has prevailed over femininity. Women are widely discriminated and victimized, and this in most societies is normality and the statistics attest to it.

Research has however found that there is a great deal of pressure on young men to live up to certain standards of manhood. What is perhaps less clear is how such understandings are linked to gender inequality and the high prevalence of gender-based violence in our society.
For example, the expectations on men to be dominant and powerful, and women to be passive and subservient in relationships can lead to the acceptance of intimate partner violence. As one young woman stated: “We think that it’s normal, when he hits me, he loves me. We are not aware that person is supposed to respect you.” The pressure on men to be financial providers in relationships and families can also lead to situations of violence. Facing the realities of poverty and unemployment, many young men experience feelings of dis-empowerment and frustration at not being able to provide.

While it is true that women are mostly affected by gender-based violence, there is a need to appreciate that men can also be abused, emotionally, sexually and physically. Young people said that boys are often raped, but that these acts are stigmatized, kept hidden and unreported. Men are abused by their women partners, but this is not understood to be a reality. In general, it is difficult for men to speak out about sexual and other forms of abuse solely to the attitude that men are tough and invulnerable, and do not express their pain or suffering. Reporting to the police is particularly difficult because men will be laughed at and ridiculed – “the police think you cannot be abused as a man”.

Concepts like gender and sexual- and gender-based violence should be expanded, re-evaluated or at least used consistently and with care, rather than solely applying to women, and thereby excluding men. Where multiple human rights are impacted, the harm caused should also be considered in multiple categories because this would allow for a more comprehensive view of the suffering of male (and other) victims. This is not only essential for providing such victims with access to adequate protection, but also for us to learn more about forms and manifestations of sexual violence and to go against self-confirming data. It is now time to adequately integrate a ‘gender’ perspective into the experiences of both men and women.

A multidimensional method of not only revealing the multitude of identities that a ‘body’ carries (including race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, social class, etc.) but also of making sure that we do not organize human rights in a ‘one-identity’ where only one identity enables a person to claim a right.

“Equality means that a wife is equal to her husband, a sister to her brother. Not better, not worse. They are equal. It isn’t enough to simply talk about equality. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough simply to believe in it. One must work at it,” says Meghan Markle.