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Freedom of Speech
Freedom of speech is about speaking what you want without being criticized. Even a five-year-old should be allowed to speak what s/he thinks. Although the national statute ensures freedom of speech, people don’t usually initiate a conversation or argue, especially when in mass. However, we can see that people will support or join someone who speaks. I’m the first of my family to pursue bachelor’s degree, but even I struggle to voice my ideas among my family members. I struggle to convince my parents to try something new. Instead of blaming the government for everything, I think we should start speaking and connecting with more people to make our voices heard. Our opinion can reach a mass if we socialize more.
Sushil Sharma Neupane
Although we have freedom of speech legally, discrimination on the basis of caste and gender in reality has been holding us back from practicing freedom of speech to its full extent. For example, the works done by richer and well-off people are immediately appreciated whereas the same work by a marginalized group is more likely to go unheard because of their lack of ‘connections’. Many times, people also don’t speak up assuming they might offend someone. My family considers my opinion regarding technology or gadgets, but I am always left out when it comes to discussing family matters. In college, our teachers listen to what we have to say, give us chance to express ourselves and even questions. As far as I have seen, you have to know a politician to get your voice heard in our society.
We are only completely free when we are allowed to express our thoughts. But, if I’m unable to speak about my feelings, I choose to write and express. In some unfortunate cases, a girl rejects a guy, and she gets raped, attacked with acid for that. Her expression of rejection invites all the trouble for her. Also, society expects women to stay silent about molestation and harassment. It is not considered woman-like to speak or raise their voice against anyone. I’m allowed to take my own decisions, but the freedom is limited. Some teachers emphasize on bringing out students’ views, while others force their teaching on us. If we question their method, they stare at us until we are silent.
I’m the youngest in my family and nobody takes me seriously. I doubt that my family is going to take me seriously even after I pass my BBA. They don’t listen to me, and even if they do, it’s a mere formality. I have to beg to convince them to be open to my opinions or point of view. I have no say in family matters but, I can talk to them if I have any serious problem. What seems strange to me is that the society celebrates pregnancy, but regards menstruation a taboo.
Democracy ensures the environment to practice freedom of speech. We say people in North Korea do not have any kind of freedom, but I see similar situation in the US and in Nepal. Women members of the family are not allowed to voice their opinion in rural areas. Even in a joint family, our parents are not even allowed to talk in front of our grandparents. So, we have barriers regarding gender and age, but we can always blog and use internet to express our views. In my family, when there is a disagreement, we sit together and discuss them. I can have my say, but final decisions are taken by my parents. Similarly, some teachers are biased as they give priority to those with good first impressions.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948 adopted freedom of expression as one of the fundamental human rights. Freedom of expression is the lack of censorship. But, it is being used in a negative connotation like to speak offensive words and pornography. Teachers in a traditional setting used to suppress students’ voice. The situation, however, has improved to an extent. Rather than complaining, we should improve our argument. Recently, a person questioned the Prime Minister in a television show, which was almost an unimaginable thing in the past. This means that today we have earned the freedom to question, but this does not guarantee an appropriate response. In rural areas, men are still known to impose their supremacy on women.
To exercise freedom of speech, we need to have freedom of thought. But, we are not even allowed to think what we want. We are guided by what people expect of us rather than what we want to be. Other than that, people are also reluctant to receive constructive criticism and change their old habits. Our society believes going against culture is a sin. Also, people know about the national annual budget, but they don’t question where the money went at the end of the fiscal year. Women don’t speak for themselves and complain about being oppressed. When I’m not heard, I keep repeating myself until I am heard. People won’t always listen to you. We need to choose our battles and talk to like-minded people.
Poonam Shahi Thakuri
Mahakavi Laxmi Prasad Devkota exercised his freedom of speech and penned beautiful poems. The Rana regime fell because people fought for their freedom of speech. Now, people from the LGBT community are also coming out of the closet. However, freedom of speech is not practiced within family and in an organizational level. I am given good education and have my rights as a woman, but I lack enough emotional support. I’m not allowed to raise my voice in front of my parents, and they tend to change the topic whenever I speak about being silenced. When I can’t speak about my true feelings in person, I take social media as a platform to express my feelings and talk about my problems.