Showing posts with label Women. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Women. Show all posts

18 August 2013

Gawa- The Story of the Fatherless

Bhutanese movies are usually lavish in length and miser in depth with occasional bollywood cliché. One prominent movie director once told me that anything other than that would not sale in Bhutanese cinema. Perhaps he is right because despite the odds he survived as the most successful director in Bhutan.

"Gawa- The Other Side of the Moon" chose to be different because it has a serious story to tell beyond commercial milage. It was inspired by a true story and it has a mission to inspire true stories.

I won't share the whole story here because I expect you to watch it for yourself because it has a story to tell to each one of us. It throws light on the dark side of the nightly rural courtship culture that men engage in for pleasure. And often it's the urban visitors who destroy the lives of innocent women in villages with their empty promises.

The movie portrays a girl, born out of gang rape and abandoned by her broken mother, in search of her identity and hers is the story lived by many children in our country. These children not only grow without their 'father' but also have to face the humiliation of being born that way. The most heartbreaking point in these children's lives is when they are denied civil registration just because they don't have fathers.

The movies has the potential to change the new generation of men, educate the young women, give hope and dignity to the victims and scorn the men who were responsible. At best it should remove the social stigma against victims and bring about the realization that if there is anybody who should be blamed and who should be scorned it's the men and not the betrayed women or the faultless children born out of it.

I wish this movie goes to my village Yangthang in Haa because there we have many fatherless children who need support to live with dignity, women who must understand their legal rights and know that it wasn't their fault, young women who must be educated, young men who must be changed and some disgraceful men who must be scorned and brought to justices because so far they are proud like a mating bull.

My father passed away when I was a baby and I used to think the same happened with my best friend's father. I used to ask about his father and he would ignore my question and turn away. One day he disclosed his father to me and perhaps he must have regretted later because I laughed so hard. I laughed because I couldn't believe someone else's father could be his father. The man he called his father was the richest man in my village but he was in rag just like me. Much later I learned that he was registered as his brother in-law's son in the census. My friend died three years ago from excessive drinking and in his short lifetime his father refused to accept him, though he looked like a photocopy of the man. I heard the rich man paid the cremation expenses of his denounced son, as if he waited for this very day to extend a helping hand.

The fate of my dead friend is shared by over 25 other children from 15 mothers in my village as far as I can remember and everybody in the village knows who their fathers are including the children themselves. People are open about this and women aren't scorned like in other societies but there is no culture of these fathers helping in raising the children. Some father wouldn't even spare a photocopy of their ID card for the registration of their children yet women take it silently.
In a small village of 50 households we are all somehow related to each other, and by disclosing this story I may become enemy of many but I am ready to face it for the sake of justice for the victims

'Gawa-The Other Side of the Moon' ends in poetic justice where the three men are brought to justice in the most satisfying way and much like the movie does its executive producer RENEW shares about having identified 770 children who received help in registration and in going to school. I hope children in my village are among the 770 who found the means to live better by the grace of Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuk, the president of RENEW.
Movie Poster
The movie is certified to be screened in all schools across the country for educational purpose and viewers can make voluntary contribution. The proceeds from the screening will go into educating these children.

05 August 2013

Picture of a Bhutanese Woman

In 1986, my cousin's wife recollects, she was asked by a western photographer to remove her tego and pose for him with her jewellery shown, during Paro Tshechu. Many years later someone came with a magazine cover with her picture on it. I don't know if it's the name of a Magazine-Arcarama 86. She was sixteen then. She has preserved the picture and can be seen on her wall even today.
24 years later another photographer, this time a Bhutanese professional photographer, got a shot of her during the same festival in Paro. I know it's by Yeshey Dorji because I saw the picture on his blog. I even printed a copy and given it to her. Recently when I visited my cousin, his wife was showing me a book in which her picture has been published.
So, I was wondering if there is something special in her looks that captivates the keen eyes of photographers and perhaps to them she is a picture of a native Bhutanese woman.

She still regrets her inability to go to school because of her grandmother but her passion has taught her to be a weaver, tailor, business woman, and a wonderful mother. 

17 October 2012

A Night to Remember

The Legend has it and movies show it that werewolves transform into wolves on full moon nights and turn bloody wild, but they are thought to be mythical species. But practically we have some men who turn into animals every weekend, if not wolves, and go hunting for trouble. Weekends are for people to rest and relax but many drink and go wild and fight and tire themselves so much.
On weekends (from
My family usually hangout late at a cafe run by my colleague, but last weekend I was occupied and couldn't make to her place. Strangely that night most of our regular friends were absent as well, and her husband was ill and left for home early. She and her niece were closing the cafe after 10 when a car pulled over and a guy started teasing her. She is not somebody who would make a fuss out of silly things. She ignored several times but he wouldn't stop. She reached at her door, which is just across the street, when the man started badmouthing her. She is good at debating, she fought back equally well.
Such men expect women to either shy away giggling or give positives signs when they eve tease them but when a woman fires back they have very think membrane around they drunken ego. The man came out of his car and ran for her. His friend was waiting in the car behind the wheel. A group of Indian laborers had gathered, along with some neighbors. The guy grabbed her by her neck and dragged her a few steps when she twisted around and gave a slap across his face. The man fell in the drain and got himself soaked in mud. She send another shot on his face with her handbag when the muddy man came for her again. He fell the second time and she jumped on him throwing punches all over his head until the man ran away like a beaten dog. The car that was waiting for him sped away after him.
Her husband knew only after the show was over, when their niece was crying aloud outside witnessing the fight but the woman has fought for herself. She called the police and started hunting for the man and his friend. Next evening when we went to her cafe she wasn't there, she was gone to police. She has taken leave from office and went looking for the man. She got him and has handed him over to the police. Her niece told us the story.
When she returned she scolded us for not being there the other night. I told her that she has fought well and done what we couldn't have. But I was curious as to why she had to go to police if she had done so much to justify the matter, to which she said, "I have fought for my defense, but not many women can do it. That contractor (O the man was a contractor) seems to think that he can abuse any woman. I took him to police to let him know that he can't..."
I jokingly remarked, "with multiple knockouts in one night the man will never again dare look at another woman." But the truth is every weekend so many men turn into animals. But that was a night to remember.

29 August 2012

Mothers Suffering Silently

Today my mother in-law is undergoing a surgery to remove her uterus, and our joy is beyond our anxiety because we are finally removing a part of her body that has bothered her for years and couldn't share with anyone. The womb that has brought my wife and her two siblings to this world has threatened to take her own live had we not known it before it became too late.
Her uterus had prolapsed and had been hanging out through her vagina for years but because of the nature of the disease she has hidden from everyone, even from her daughter. It was during the melom chembo in Haa that her son's sister inlaw sighted it when they toileting outside. She inform my brother inlaw, who in turn took her to the doctor.
This is a common risk among elderly women who give birth at home without the assistant of medical staff, meaning many of our village mothers could be suffering silently. The woman on the next bed is awaiting the same surgery, and shockingly she has hidden the disease for 25 years.
These two ladies are lucky that theirs didn't turn into cancer, which has high probability. But not many will be lucky like them, there for I urge all daughters and educated women to check on your mothers and other elderly women in your family for any secret disease such as this if they are hiding. Your one action in time could save their lives and free them from their worse discomfort. I visited my sister last evening and asked her to check our mother though I have asked her myself without hesitation. She says she doesn't have it but I still want my sister to verify. Please verify your mothers.

To all the friends on Twitter who sent in your wishes, thank you very much, your prayers are very important for us at this hour.

Update 8th Spet 2012: 
There are various causes to this sort of disease and not just unassisted birthing. One woman who underwent the same surgery the next day had left copper T inside for 12 years. It nearly took her life. But all stories in JDWNRH this time had happy ending but not many will be so lucky if they are late in seeking medical help. Therefore please take this issue seriously and do whatever is possible within your capacity to help free women around you from such disease.
My mother in-law is doing great at home now, she is recovering very fast. Thanks for all the support and prayers during our hard times. We will "Never forget the people who help you in your difficult times"

- Posted using BlogPress
Location:JDWNRH Thimphu

13 February 2012

Who Will Help Her?

About six years ago my wife helped a girl get a job. She was very innocent, beautiful and young but life didn't let her live her youth in peace. She was the eldest sibling and had a young brother in her hand. She had to leave her school and start earning. She was very happy that my wife helped her.
A year later my wife got a call from her family. They wanted to know where their daughter was. She went missing. We didn't know that by help the girl we bought ourselves the trouble of taking all the risk. But because she went missing my wife involved herself fully in the search. By the end of the week long search their only faith was in astrology, and that was the righteous decision they took. The astrologer said the girl was safe and hiding in the place they least expected, and that her captivator will confess it the next morning.
Yes, the next morning they visited her employer and as soon as he saw them he confessed that the girl was at his place. Her already married employer had lured the little girl and now she was talking his words. Despite all the warnings from her family the girl didn't want to leave the man. That was her fault.
In the last five years she was disowned by her family and her husband left his first wife. She still worked for him, only that she is no more paid. We often heard her story of paying the huge price for her mistake from her sister but she never complained. As long as she works fine in the office and works fine at home without questioning anything she was spared. But every time she makes a mistake, every time she was seen going out of office, and every time she asked a question, she was beaten blue and black. Last winter when we met her she wouldn't tell us much but pitifully told was that she wouldn't mind the beating if it weren't in public places, but it happened wherever he gets upset. I was very disheartened and wanted to help her but she didn't seem to need help, god knows why.
But suddenly, last week my wife received a call from her. She wanted to know the RENEW's contact number. She was scared after what happened that morning- her husband threw stone at her in a restaurant and when he missed his shot he booted her. I immediately rushed to my computer and looked for what she asked. I got it but I wasn't sure if she would dare to ask for help, so I made my wife ask her if it was ok for me to get her the help. She quickly yesed it. I went to RENEW website and since it was in the evening I knew there won't be people at office and therefore I wrote an email (to ) just like I wrote it here with her phone number.
It's over four days now and I have checked my inbox umpteen times. When I finally called the office (02332159) a coughing girl on the other end told me that they don't take complains from email. I was asked to send the girl to their office. I explained how it's not possible. The girl on the phone then asked me to hold on, and then I heard intercom ringing. It went on ringing until I finally hung up. Who will help her?

Update 14 Feb 2012: My apologies to RENEW if my article affected anybody, It was my fault not to have tried different ways. But I am very happy that they took this seriously and reached out to me. They even said that they are going to put up the concerned Mobile Numbers on their website. For now if you have any complains get in touch with Dr. Meenakshi, Community Outreach Director at Mobile no. 17666955. And Thanks Kesang C Dorjee.

15 July 2011

Compassionate Bhutan must accept Abortion now

 June 11, a young lady died in Phuntsholing Hospital after an unsuccessful abortion in Jaigaon. Until the doctors saw bleeding from the victim’s genitals, her friend had lied it was an epileptic attack. Telling the truth could lead to legal actions, but she left the world, free of pains.

Record shows that every year over 200 women suffer similar fate, which could be just the tip of an iceberg. There may be hundreds others who must be crying in the corners with pain, or worse must have died silent deaths.
Our compassionate Buddhist kingdom views abortion as a very sinful act, equivalent to killing a person. But with due respect, I seek to know where is compassion in letting a young woman die along with her baby? Where is compassion in letting an unwanted child see the light of the world, sentencing him to a home where he wasn’t wanted? Where is compassion in letting a young woman give birth to a child, whose father has given up on them?

I find more compassion in abortion; killing a cell for the sake of a woman’s life, and liberating both the mother and the child from depth of mistake. Abortion is not an ice cream that everybody would enjoy if made free, it is but the only option left when everything seems wrong. No woman will go for abortion for pleasure.

If there was a way out, the 23 year old woman wouldn’t have travelled over 400 km straight against her country’s law and pay Nu.9000 to let someone dig into her and take her guts out. In such times no amount of law can stop that. But just because it’s illegal at home, the desperate woman has gone out to Jaigaon, place where nothing seems right- who knows if the man who operated on her was a doctor or a vegetable vendor.

Abortion is not permitted in Bhutan because we are Buddhist, isn’t it more Buddhist to forgive a woman for her mistake and give her a new life instead of letting her die along with child, which we were trying to protect? How many women must die before we rethink our role as a Buddhist?

29 October 2010

Khuru and Women

Women playing khuru has become a hot topic on Kuensel forum. The cultural shift has received as much praise as it’s been mocked. There are ones who appreciate the participation of women in keeping the spirit of the traditional game while others consider it gross and even ominous. There are ones who think women are finally seeing life beyond their kitchens while others think they are creating mockery of the game.

And there are a few people, including khuru players themselves, who declared (on BBS) playing khuru is a sign that women are equal to men and that they can do what men can do, which is when I started laughing and even doubting the intention.

If ladies truly enjoy playing the game then they must play. It boosts social interaction and physically fitness. It kills boredom and punctures daily frustration, and yes even let their husbands know how it feels like to be left alone on weekends and losars, ha ha ha. But if it is done to prove their equality with men then I wish to tell them how wrong they are. It is a gross misunderstanding of the principle of gender equality. In that case wearing gho instead of kira would speak louder than just torturing themselves under scorching sun playing khuru.

Woman playing khuru. Graceful?  ( From
There are a thousand ways women could justify their strength; there is no short of inspiration, motivation and right. Khuru is a wild game; throwing khuru and hitting target is one thing while screaming and dancing like crazy is another. Women are icon of beauty and grace but watching them play khuru on TV really freaked me. Khuru was a wrong choice. It’s like selling your hair to buy a comb.

Khuru: a traditional Bhutanese dart game, played usually by men.
Losar: new year day, but now it refers to any special holiday.
Gho: National dress for men
Kira: national dress for women.

25 August 2010

“Ladies, go back home” Policy

Government drove off all Indian maids working in Bhutanese homes and now you can’t even keep Bhutanese helpers. What alternative did the government come up with? Well it none of their business. Following the house raid last year families across the nation are devastated, all they could do was to call their old parents to babysit for them. What about those without parent? Well, don’t give birth!
Despite substantial effort in bringing about gender equality, Bhutan couldn’t really remove its deep root from feminine discrimination. The ill feeling is at the heart of our beliefs, superstitions, religion and culture. We are all brought up with the belief that girls are nine lives below us, whatever it mean. It takes a man to perform or inaugurate an important ceremony. It will be considered bad if a woman walks over a man, or for that matter his gho or any other things that belong to man. If you know a Bhutanese fairy tale, tell me who is the gunda boss? Who else but a witch. There is no room in Bhutan where man can’t go in but many temples have certain chambers where females are forbidden. Symbol of male sex organ (phallus) is considered scared and is seen hanging from roofs and drawn on walls but not the female one. Even wise figure like Guru Rimpochee relates tobacco with female menstrual fluid. One Dzongkhag text we were taught in high school fully talks on how dirty a female body is. This is a short list I can remember to illustrate the depth of feminine prejudice in our society.
And with change in time things seem to have moved on but with the root deep down underneath how we could expect so much; Health people say a mother must breastfeed their baby for full six month while the maternity leave is just three months and no office will allow women employees to walk in the office with their babies. Now as women rub shoulders with men, our society can't resist it and therefore “ladies, go back home” policy is put in place- I mean if babysitters are illegal or made unaffordable it only means mothers leaving the jobs and going back home.
Just sit down with a cup of tea and look back on our beliefs and culture and ask yourselves who must have made them. If your mind is not frozen in some ancient times perhaps you would realize that all of these are brainchild of some powerful foolish men back in Dark Age.