photo of person from Nepal Sindhulpalchok
Nepal
 
GLOSSARY
Nepal glossary

Inkumari

(NEPAL 18)

Sex

female

Age

35

Identity

N

Occupation

teacher/shop owner

Location

Siddheswor VDC, Sindhuli

Date

August 1994

 

transcript

Section 1
May I have your introduction please?
My name is Indrakumari Devkot. I used to live in the hills of Amale Village Development Committee (VDC) in Sindhuli and now I am living in Siddheswor VDC Sindhuli. I am a teacher and I also have a business.

How old are you?
I am 35 years old now.

How long have you been a teacher and since when did you have the shop?
I've been a teacher for 14 years and for the last 5 years I have had the shop. I am a businesswoman during the morning and evening, during the day I teach.

How many members do you have in the family?
I have my father, mother, elder brother, sister-in-law, sister, younger brothers and their wives and younger sisters.

What do they do?
The elder brother is a teacher, my parents and my elder sister are into business. The younger sisters are studying in intermediate and my younger is also studying.

What do you do with your earnings?
I am living with my parents so I spend the money for my family.

How many of you are living here?
Here, I am living with my parents, elder sister and her sons.

And your brothers?
They are living in the hills.

I would like to ask you about the gender discrimination. What differences do you find between men and women?
I see only the physical differences; by nature, the women can be mothers and bear children whereas, the men can just be fathers, that's all.

Have you found any discrimination between men and women in this society?
Of course! Because, from the time a child is born you can see the difference. Like if a boy is born, everybody is happy and they celebrate but when a girl is born the parents become sad and worried. The parents really don't care about the daughter, but they send their boy to school for education. They think that the girls are really otherís property and itís of no use to educate them. It's not only that, even in our religion the men are above the women, it is said that the women should treat the men as god and be their slaves. They have made such regulations that they have been exploiting the women ever since. The men have made the rules according to their needs. Even the religion is the same; they have been keeping the women at the back.
That's not all, when the women work along with the men with as much skill and strength, they are still mistreated, the women do the same kind of work but when the men get 1 pathi the women get only 4 manas (measurements: 4 manas is Ĺ of a pathi). During religious celebrations the strong men are there to work but they need women to clean the place and provide them all the necessary items. Most of the work is done by the women but the credit goes to the men. Itís the same about having a job, the men can go far and get any line of jobs but the women cannot even go out to study. The parents are always worried that, if they send their daughter out the others will not think good of them, so it will be difficult for them to get married in the future. Or they may be ill-treated after they are married, that is why the women don't get education so they cannot have a job, that's why you don't see that many women in the offices. The women haven't been able to really work anywhere, it's not because they cannot do it, but because of social drawbacks.
It's not only that, the women are deprived from getting the wealth or property of her parents. The men have the right on their parent's properties from the time they are born, but the women can get their share only if they do not get married and stay with their parents and they are only eligible when they are 35 years old. But if she gets married after that, she has to return her share to her parents. When a women is married, she shares all the properties and wealth with her husband, the husband can do anything with their properties but the women cannot do anything with their property without the consent of her husband. If her husband had died and she has to look after their children, she cannot use her properties until the son is 16 years old, but again, she must have her son's consent after that also. I think this kind of discrimination must not be there, the daughter must have equal rights to her parent's wealth and properties as the son does. The other thing is, the father has the right of rearing the son and the husband his wife, but nobody has the right to look after the daughter, it's not mentioned in the law, there's no such thing as the father must look after his daughter.
Section 2
You mean to say that, even the law has deprived women from equal rights and justice. What do you think about our culture, custom and social behaviours?
Socially, the women are more backward. If a women gets education and wants to teach or educate others, the people think, that the women is being more than the men and trying to be smart or a leader. So if the woman wants to be smart and develop her qualities the same people become the obstacle. So, I say that even our culture is depriving the women from developing.

With such discrimination, what kind of effect will there be in the development of our culture and nation?
It can effect things greatly, in the development of our village. When there is discrimination between the son and the daughter in the house, how can such a house be good and have the environment for development? With such families how can the village develop or the district and the nation? Like, you cannot clap with only one hand or the cart cannot move on one wheel, both the men and the women should be equal in all aspects in order to develop a nation. So, the women must get education and equal rights, they should be encouraged to be smart, outgoing and forward. The men only, cannot do everything for the development, but if they allow the women all the facilities they get, the development of the nation will be enhanced.
Section 3
Do you think this is why our nation cannot develop?
Yes, as long as the discrimination between the men and women is there, this nation will not develop.

Have you also suffered from such things?
Of course, I live in a remote place; there the women are not educated. When I was in the school, there weren't any women studying there, they enrolled me in the school on my father's request. It was all right when I was studying in my village school, but when I went to the school in the headquarters of the district, the villagers started to say all sorts of things. They said that if a woman is educated and goes away to study or work they will be spoilt. At that time, I really felt bad and I was really worried but I took it as a challenge and was able to get educated. If I had listened to what the villagers had to say and stayed at home I wouldn't have been able to reach this standard. When I passed SLC (Secondary Level Certificate) I was sent on a training to Pokhara, at that time also the villagers didn't want me to go, but I didn't listen to them and my father also didn't care. Whatever the villagers said, I took it as advice and I wanted to show them, so I went to Pokhara and successfully completed my training. Then I came back and started teaching their daughters. When they saw what I did with my education, they also became aware of the importance of the education, and started to send their daughters to school. Now, there are many girls who have passed SLC.

Do you find any change in the olden days and now?
Of course! The society - which used to think that the women shouldn't get education, if the women are educated they become spoilt and wouldn't listen to them and cannot do household works, the women shouldn't be sent far away for education or training -now has a different attitude. After I became a teacher, the people are sending their daughters to schools, wherever I go, I see more girls studying in the schools. Now, even in this illiterate society the people think the daughter must be educated, at least they are more aware now. This is the biggest change I find these days.

Are there any other changes besides this?
The other changes are, in the olden days, the women were to stay at home they were not allowed to go out. But nowadays, if their brother gets married his sisters can go along with the procession. The girls can attend schools in far away places even if the school is one to two days walk from their village, and they can even teach in far away places. The women can work in the offices. These days you can find more women working in the offices whereas in the olden days you could hardly find any women working in the offices. So when I see our sisters going to work, I think more women are getting education and the development is in the process.

What change do you find in wages?
Before the men thought the women couldn't work as much as the men so when the men got one pathi the women got only 4 manas, but now the men think that the women also work as much as the men so the women are also getting the same wages. In the olden days the men were against the education for women but now they also think that the women also must get work according to their qualifications. So there is improvement regarding the work and wages.
Section 4
Do you remember the happiest day of your life?
After I finished my training and came back here to teach the children of the illiterate society, I should say, that was the happiest day of my life.

And do you remember the saddest day of your life?
When I finished my primary school and went to the school in the headquarters of the district that time the villagers were very much against it, they said all sorts of things, which were bad. They were an obstruction then, I think that was the saddest day of my life. If my parents had listened to the villagers I wouldn't be in this place.

Do you have any suggestions to decrease the differences between men and women?
The discrimination between men and women has been the drawback in the development of our nation, so my suggestion is, the girls must get equal rights as the boys. The girls must get equal share of their parent's properties and equal opportunity to study. The girls are forcefully getting married at a young age, they have to marry whoever the parents choose as their groom. So, if the girls are educated, have equal rights in the society as well as in the law, the development of our nation will automatically be enhanced.

Thank you very much for your time and your views of our society.
I also thank you for the opportunity you gave me to say a few words, I wish to get more opportunities in the future.

Interviewerís note: Though the narrator said that the men and women get equal wages these days, I didn't find so in my field trip.