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15 days ago
Safety and sexual violence: What do young girls have to say?
The incidents of sexual violence have gone up lately in Nepal. The cases of Sushmita Regmi, Nirmala Panta, and another teenager who was sexually exploited by her own teacher, highlight the level of insecurity that girls experience in schools and in open environments. In this context, Manawi Shah and Samiksha Shrestha of My City talked to a few young girls from the Kathmandu Valley to learn their views about their security in regard to sexual violence and measures that the government and other stakeholders can take in order to create a safer environment for them. Excerpts:
Moksha Bajracharya, 19
“If society starts treating rapists like they have been treating rape victims then surely it will discourage many of these sick people because what I've noticed is these ill-minded people care more about their social status and how they're viewed and treated.”
I don't feel safe anywhere as a woman. The only way anyone will ever feel safe from these people is when society as a whole starts boycotting these criminals. Catcalling and inappropriate touching is passed on as something normal so rapists have it easy since sexual harassment is already normalized in our society. If it's a female victim she's blamed and if it's a male victim he's laughed upon. Until and unless sexism prevails even in the form of "memes", rape cultures and stereotypes will be normalized which will make cases like these difficult.
In order to maintain the social and cultural sanctity of our community, women are brought up fear rape. I agree that basic self defense lessons are useful generally, but why as a woman should I be targeted specifically? Shouldn't men be taught to respect our boundaries, and learn about consent? When we go out, we don't get ready for murders or any other crimes but as a female, we should be conscious and in fear of rape and assault. No matter how much we develop, due to misogyny and patriarchy, there's still a misconception about rape. The people of our community don't raise their voices or boycott such offenders which motivates the offenders to continue such acts. If society starts treating rapists like they have been treating rape victims then surely it will discourage many of these sick people cause what I've noticed is these ill-minded people care more about their social status and how they're viewed and treated.
Abayaa Affull, 17
“If the boundaries are not clearly drawn out or taught to the younger generations, the definitions for rape and sexual assault become blurred and both young girls and boys may not be aware about being sexually abused or perpetratoring a sexual abuse.”
Inside the school, when it comes to respecting boundaries and just basic human decency, everyone has a common understanding and respect for each other regardless of gender and background. I’m not paranoid that something bad could or ever will happen inside school premises because it is a supportive environment where there are several people I feel I can trust. Outside of school is a different issue. If I’m ever out after it gets dark, I have a persistent fear that I or my friends could encounter someone with bad intentions. There are several times when I’ve been alone or walking with friends and have been followed around in the streets or harassed by some strange man trying to flirt. I and several of my friends have been consistently warned by our parents and grandparents that ‘it’s not safe for young girls to be out after dark, which, I think, says it all. Speaking about sex is still extremely taboo in our society, so firstly, I’d imagine there are not a lot of conversations about consent happening. If the boundaries are not clearly drawn out or taught to the younger generations, the definitions for rape and sexual assault become blurred and both young girls and boys may not be aware about being sexually abused or perpetratoring a sexual abuse.
Redima Limbu, 16 years
“Installment and maintenance of active security cameras at appropriate distances could prevent the assaulters from committing the crime in public places.”
As a young lady with confidence in herself, I feel safe at school and outdoors. It is personal and specific, however, that someone else may not necessarily feel the same way. Speaking of safety, it’s more on us than the potential culprits. We must do what is in our hands; the intentions of another may change in a fraction of a second. Installment and maintenance of active security cameras at appropriate distances could prevent the assaulters from committing the crime in public places.
Sheetal Manandhar, 22 years
“I think the ideology of people should change regarding blaming the victim.”
I don't really feel safe in a strange outdoor environment because we are not aware of what is going on inside another person’s mind. Therefore, it is hard to judge whom to trust and be comfortable with. In this society that we live in, people are built to put all the blame on the victim even if it is actually the perpetrator's fault. Therefore, girls are blamed. Society says "they are asking for it" by wearing short, tight-fitting clothes. Then, after the sexual violence has been committed, our society's perspective of seeing a girl with positivity turns into negativity and sees them as "less of a woman". I think the ideology of people should change regarding blaming the victim.
- by Manawi Shah
- by Samiksha Shrestha
- by Samiksha Shrestha
- by Samiksha Shrestha