Do Women Have The Right to Feel Secure?

Reeti K.C.
Posted October 11, 2018 from Nepal

His arms fling over my shoulder and I feel his finger tips trying to reach the side of my left breast. I feel his every movement in the crowded public vehicle in Kathmandu. I feel uncomfortable with the middle-aged man sitting beside me in the dark vehicle. I was scared but confused if he was trying to place his hand on the window beside me because we were cramped in the one-seater seat beside the driver or he was trying to touch me. I was also wearing a dress which was not revealing but it did not allow me to stand in the rear of the crowded vehicle with my friends. In those few seconds when his hand traveled from my shoulder to my side, I questioned myself, ‘Why I am sitting here? Why did I wear this dress? Am I being harassed?'

When his hands got closer and brushed my breast, I knew his intentions. I did not shout or scream but told him to move his hand, loudly enough for the driver beside him to hear. The driver looked at us. 20 seconds later, the middle-aged man asked to be dropped in a place which wasn’t even a stop.

This incident scarred me for a long time. I feared wearing a dress, sitting in the specific seat if I traveled, I feared travelling at night or sitting beside any man in a public transport. This incident happened around two years back and it took a long time for me to understand IT WASN’T MY FAULT.

I grew up in a society where girls aren’t supposed to go out at night and wear revealing cloths to gather attention. Therefore, I was scared to talk about this to anyone other than my friends because I knew the reply would be, ‘See! I told you so'.

Nepal is a patriarchal society where women are the second sex in most social hierarchies. The domination towards women is decorated with words such as ‘safety’ and ‘security’ to shut us behind the four walls of the house. The men who take decision for us don’t understand we don’t need to be kept safe if the environment outside the four walls is safe. The solution is to solve the problem, not hide from the problem.

I have been eve teased, flashed, physically and verbally harassed in the streets and public vehicle. But my experiences are nothing compared to what many women in Nepal go through.

According to the Nepal Peace Monitoring Project, in 2017, 680 incidents of gender-based violence was documented though the actual number may be higher. 430 women were reported to be raped or attempted to be raped, 116 women faced domestic violence, 13 women faced accusation of being a witch, 44 murders of women and 53 assaults were related to gender-based violence.

In Nepal, women are the prestige and honor of the family. It is not easy for them to voice out their plea for justice because most of the time, the issue is suppressed so that no one knows about it. That is the reason many cases don’t get reported. The number of cases reported on gender-based violence have increased distinctly but the question on safety rises as the perpetrators are not caught in certain cases for more than two months now like the rape case of a 13-year-old girl, Nirmala Pant. There were demonstrations and cry for justice from different parts of the country, yet Pant is yet to get justice.

On September 24, 2018, an 18-year-old girl died of multiple organ failure 10 days later of an acid attack by her neighbor. It brings forth an important question, if home and neighborhood is not secure then where can security be guaranteed?   

The society would feel safer to live in if the core problem was sought and rooted out instead of making women compromise her freedom. Women know how to take precautions and I know this because I while walking at night, I always have something in my hand to defend if someone attacks me, I have my emergency contact memorized, battery full charged in my mobile while travelling alone, no earphones on when I’m in an unfamiliar area and I don’t even live in a very dangerous city of my country.

But girls shouldn’t have to think about being attacked or snatched every time she goes out because according to Article 3 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.’ But sometimes we forget the second sex is also a human.

 

 

This post was submitted in response to The Future of Security Is Women .

Comments 19

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  • Olutosin
    Oct 11
    Oct 11

    Chai, my sister, its the same herr, it got so bad that when I began to work, I always pay for an empty seat beside me, I still do it. This is because I had a terrible experience in Lagos Nigeria. I wrote about it once here. I slept off in a bus and a middle aged imbecile of a man dipped his hand in my brassiere. I woke up immediately, looked at him and he was smilling.
    I dont want to continue reliving the scene.

    We can end it. We will.

  • Reeti K.C.
    Oct 14
    Oct 14

    Oh sister! These ill-minded men are like termites in the society, destroying the harmony in it slowly. But we can share our story, make people aware that this happens in the society so that women fight back instead of blaming themselves.

    Yes, we can end it and we will do it together.

  • Hannah Bohart
    Oct 11
    Oct 11

    Hi Reeti,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I believe that every time a woman shares a difficult story, it gives other women and girls the courage to share theirs and to know they are not alone.
    I look forward to hearing more from you on World Pulse!
    Warmly,
    Hannah

  • Reeti K.C.
    Oct 14
    Oct 14

    Hello Hannah,
    Yes, I agree with you. I get the strength to share my story from all the brave women who have told their story. It makes me feel that I'm not alone in this safe space where I get to tell my story without being afraid.

    I will definitely write more and share my stories.

    Warm Regards,
    Reeti

  • anita shrestha
    Oct 12
    Oct 12

    Hi
    yes in Nepal bus, same situation happened, I was also faced that situation many times.
    Thank you for sharing
    Anita Shrestha
    Nepal

  • Reeti K.C.
    Oct 14
    Oct 14

    Hello Anita,
    The situation in the buses is very common especially because it is so crowded. I have heard many girls face it and the fact that it is common and everyone knows is unacceptable. We need to share our stories and stand together as women.

    - Reeti

  • Tamarack Verrall
    Oct 12
    Oct 12

    Dear Reeti,
    Telling these stories is a powerful way to create change, and you write so beautifully. These statements stand out for me: "...girls aren’t supposed to go out....girls shouldn’t have to think about being attacked or snatched every time she goes out". This is so obvious to us, and yet we are considered so outrageous to say it out loud. And that a girl has been brutally killed for refusing advances. The world needs to know that those girls had acid thrown on them, and that it is still assumed that girls are to blame for anything that happens if they go outside. Knowing how it is there for you, we can raise our voices together. With you, your country has a skilled news reporter.

    In sisterhood,
    Tam

  • Reeti K.C.
    Oct 14
    Oct 14

    Dear Tam,
    I believe in the power of stories as well. It can create vast changes if everyone were to tell theirs. And thank you for the kind words about my writing. It is the strongest tool I have to tell my story.
    There are many unacceptable facts in the society that everyone knows but is never said out loud for fear or because it is too common. I don't think these things should be taken lightly. It might be common but it is not something that should be ignored. And victim blaming is an easy way to side track the problem. The society starts blaming the victim which makes her blame herself. It's hitting where it hurts. We as women can raise our voices for and with our sisters. We will get through it together.

    -Reeti

  • Lisbeth A. Salifu
    Oct 13
    Oct 13

    Hi Reeti,
    Its very true than the norm is always about the cloths the girl or woman is wearing as at the time when the incident happened but I think it must be ruled out. Its does not matter what the persons wears, No one has a right to say her cloths made me rape her.

    Women must feel free, happy and content in their own society without any harassment.
    Thanks for sharing your story, i looks forward to hearing more of your stories :-)

    Best wishes
    Lisbeth

  • Reeti K.C.
    Oct 14
    Oct 14

    Hello Lisbeth,
    Yes, clothes never determine rape or harassment. It is the mindset of people who commit the heinous act. If clothes were the case, no child should have been raped but nowadays I hear many rape cases of children because they are the easy victim.

    A girl must never question why she wasn't born a man. It is an amazing thing to be born as a woman. With a safer and secure environment, a society can be free, happy and content where women can truly enjoy her womanhood.

    Thank you for reading my story.

    Best wishes,
    Reeti

  • jlanghus
    Oct 13
    Oct 13

    Hi Reeti,

    Thanks for sharing your story and speaking up. I'm sorry you have had so many traumatizing experiences:-( I totally agree with you that the problem needs to be corrected, and not the victims. The mentality is all wrong. What do you think would make the most difference toward positive change in ending this horrible and dysfunctional paradigm?

    Good luck with your story submission!

  • Reeti K.C.
    Oct 14
    Oct 14

    Hello Jlanghus,
    Thank you so much for the question.
    I think the paradigm was born out of a patriarchal society where women were thought of a lesser human than a man. So, instead of understanding the problem with themselves, men blamed women and kept them behind four walls. The first change should be to change the patriarchal ideology of men and women in the society.

    I think the ideology is passed through women more even though it was set by men because it is always our mother, grandmother and aunt who are telling us to dress proper, don't go out at night, be decent and so on. They do know it is a compensation of freedom for women but ask us to act in a proper way because, 'What would the society say?' The second change should be to enlighten women that the coming generation should not face what they did. They can make their daughters strong and powerful through education and sharing their stories so that these women can solve the problem.

    The third change should be made by the media ( as I am a Media Studies student). The answers to WHY? should be dug in and emphasized more in the follow-up instead of What, where and when.

    I hope my answer makes sense.

    Thank you for the best wishes.

    -Reeti

  • jlanghus
    Oct 15
    Oct 15

    Hi Reeti,

    You're welcome:-) Yes, that makes sense.

    Yes, I've wondered about that, too, about women being the stronger perpetrators of patriarchy; at least some of the time. That's really sad and troubling to me. I don't understand why women, and girls would want to do this.

    That's also a good suggestion about enlightenment.

    Can you clarify the Why? I'm curious:-)

    Have a good one.

  • Wala Lut
    Oct 13
    Oct 13

    It is the same in Yemen.
    It is male society.
    Sexual harrassment accidents are alot here .
    I have exposed to same situation in bus as you in my country.
    I hate Men.

  • Reeti K.C.
    Oct 14
    Oct 14

    I am so sorry to hear that. I think there are a lot of women who can relate to our stories. I think the problem is with the male dominated society and not men. They were raised seeing such activities and they follow the same. In order to stop it, men must be taught to respect women from the very beginning so that the men after them do the same and it creates a ripple of changes.

  • Wala Lut
    Oct 15
    Oct 15

    Also, the way mother and society favor men and male children in my country Yemen.They raise men to control women and teach women to obey men.Hate it too much.

  • ARREY - ECHI
    Oct 15
    Oct 15

    Dear Reeti,
    The rules, the customs, the dos and don'ts have all made it a man's world. Women are subjugated and made to feel less than a human from insecured men who make laws and customs keep the woman caged and surprised.

    I am sorry you went through that and glad you finally came to the realisation that it was not your fault. For the paradigm shift to happen, more and more women need to become active partners in the decision making processes of their countries.
    Hugs,
    Arrey

  • Dawn Arteaga
    Oct 15
    Oct 15

    Reeti, Thank you for sharing your story. I had a similar experience on a train here in Washington, D.C. I was in college and sitting on the window seat. A young man sat next to me and spread his legs wide enough that I couldn't avoid touching his legs. When I stood up to get off, instead of moving to the aisle to let me out, he moved only partially toward the aisle. As I tried to get past him he shoved his pelvis hard into my backside. I felt very distinctly a hard you-know-what. I elbowed him in the stomach and screamed and ran off the train. So many times I've replayed that scene - was I "encouraging" him by not trying harder to move my leg when he spread his legs? Should I have gotten up sooner? I haven't told this story to many people and never reported it. It's just one of those "accepted" experiences we have as women in public spaces. And like you, I feel grateful it wasn't worse, as it has been for many of my close friends.

  • Sarah Dan-Legogie
    Oct 16
    Oct 16

    As a growing child i escaped rape thrice. first from am uncle, then a cousin, then a driver who was taking me back home from school. I know first hand what it feels like to be scared and helpless. But we are strong and you will overcome these fears too.