I recently read that light touch sets off our body’s protective warning system, and recently – in Nepal – I had cause to intervene to protect myself from light ‘chunu’ (touch) from men…
The Hindu Legal Code, the Muluki Ain of 1854 (MA of 1854), was developed by the dictatorial ruler, Jang Bahadur Rana to fulfill his vision of creating a pure Hindu land. It embedded Hinduism, patriarchy and the caste system. For nearly 100 years, the MA of 1854 was enforced as the principal law of the land and it was used to classify people as ‘high’ or ‘low’ caste.
Hinduism and its patriarchal norms have had a profound impact on women in Nepal. However, to classify Nepal as a patriarchal society alone would be an oversimplification of the issue. According to Hamal Gurung (2014, p. 175), ‘Nepal is a patriarchal, patrilineal and patrifocal society: its norms are heavily patriarchal’. In addition, patriarchy is reported to occur within all ethnic groups in Nepal.
In Nepal, the trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation has a long history and reportedly dates back to the Rana Rule (1846-1951). During this time, young girls from the hilly districts surrounding the Kathmandu valley were brought to the palaces as maid servants (susaaray) and concubines (bhitrini) to provide sex for the members of the Rana regime
In South Asia – a predominantly Hindu region – women and girls suffer severe discrimination, which begins at birth.
Hinduism, as it is practised in South Asia, is patriarchal. In simple terms, patriarchy means that a system of government is controlled by men and a society is focussed and centred on the father and everything in society relates to or is based on the relationship with a father or descent through male lineage. Although Nepal is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious nation, its society is predominantly Hindu, and its norms are heavily patriarchal. In addition, patriarchy is reported to occur within all ethnic groups in Nepal. In fact, Seira Tamang, a political scientist who has extensive experience in researching dimensions of social exclusion and promoting practices and policies of good governance in Nepal, says that Nepal’s issues with patriarchy are more complex than this. She says: