News and Views on Tibet

Tibetan women say ‘no’ to violence as part of 16-day activism against gender disparity

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Flash mob dancers holding placards creating awareness on gender-based violence at the McLeod Ganj square on Saturday(Phayul photo)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 5: The Women Empowerment Desk (WED) of Central Tibetan Administration and Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) on Saturday joined calls against gender-based violence by conducting a flash mob and theatre performances to create awareness around the subject. TWA President Tenzin Dolma told the crowd at McLeod Ganj square, “There are many instances of sexual violence where we try to put the issue under the rug and try to resolve it among ourselves; we need to stop this. There is an immediate need to take responsibility and put an end to violence against women.”

“We are proud to bring this campaign to Dharamshala. Gender-based violence continues to occur at an alarming scale in every country of the world. Too often it is accepted as normal behaviour, shifting this behaviour is hard and slow but gender equality means all of us, and working with all genders is the only way to see true change,” Tsering Kyi from WED spoke on the importance of the initiative.

A flash mob performance by local Tibetan women at the McLeod Ganj square on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021 (Phayul photo/Kunsang Gashon)

Following the dance performances by a group of women, the theatre performance by Tibetan actors demonstrated an abusive relationship of a married couple and then juxtaposed the same scenario with another couple that showed a more caring companionship. A live art mural depicting womanhood by artist Jigme Choedak is also underway at the Square since the campaign launched.

As part of their 16-day activism, the desk has also introduced webinar series introducing co-founder of ACHA Himalayan Sisterhood, Dechen Tsering, Director of Tibetan Ability Centre, Delek Wangmo and psychology expert Dr. Kunga Norzom. Menstrual hygiene and support for victims of domestic violence have been among the list of issues the team continues to work on.

The cases of sexual violence and domestic abuse have been discussed on community level through trainings and workshops given by self-help group Drokmo and WED of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Although the exile community is small where most incidents or cases go unresolved mainly due to lack of legal intervention, small steps towards gender sensitization and education around the subject have been undertaken in the last couple of years.

*Please contact WED or Drokmo for any guidance if you are a victim of rape or sexual violence. The CTA supported helpline number for women is 01892220120.

One Response

  1. Violence is unacceptable against anybody. Those of us who follow the Lord Buddha must live up to our beliefs. Once we take refuge in the triple gem, we must abstain from harming others, be they human beings, birds, animals or insects. By taking refuge we commit ourselves not to harm others. ཇི་སྐད་དུ་ དམ་པའི་ཆོས་ལ་སྐྱབས་འགྲོ་བ་ འཚེ་ཞིང་གསོད་པའི་སེམས་དང་བྲལ་ (those take refuge in the Dharma, must abstain from the thought of harm and killing). Therefore, harming ones own wife or partner is out of the question.
    However, we know that not everybody follows such rules that are taught by the Buddha. Wife beating is quite rampant in many societies and Tibetan society is no different. Women have come a long way campaigning for equal rights and owing to education, women are far less dependent on men. This has helped levelling the power balance and women can no more be treated like house maids or baby making machines anymore. Even so, there is a long way to go before women can be really free from abuse. One example is the rape of Peng Shuai, an internationally known Chinese Tennis player by the ex-Vice President Zhang Gaoli of the CCP. If internationally renowned women can be raped by powerful men, it goes without saying that thousands of women still face assault, rape, intimidation and harassment at the hands of lusty men. In India not a day passes by without a rape including children as young as four or five years! Its just unimaginable how some men are so depraved to commit such shameful acts against children!
    Among the Tibetan exiles, there have been rapes and even murder of girls despite the fact that the Dalai Lama has been in the forefront of giving teachings every year around the world and especially in Dharamsala. Thanks to HH The Dalai Lama, we can safely assume, our community is more compassionate than other communities. Even so, bad things happen and we do hear such shocking news as the murder of a Swiss born Tibetan girl by a Tibetan born in India who is believed to be living in France. It’s unbelievable that a fellow Tibetan can commit such heinous crime against one of our own. It’s heart breaking to hear such terrible things.
    Therefore, Tibetan men must learn to respect women. We must discard long held beliefs of looking down on women and treating them shabbily. Through the teachings of the Buddha and HH The Dalai Lama, Tibetans must do better than any other community.
    One important aspect is educating our young people to respect each other. But the most important for Tibetans Buddhists is to follow the Buddha’s message of compassion to all beings. This should help to show compassion to ones wife or partner and never raise their hands on their life partners. The belief in karma should also help them to refrain from harming ones loved ones – be it ones spouse or other women.

    For all Tibetan sisters and brothers, I have one request. Since, we have lost our country and are struggling to retain our identity, please make sure you guys marry a Tibetan as your life partner. This is very important because if we dilute our population, the children of such mixed marriage will lose the Tibetan identity. I know some mixed marriage children are die hard Tibetans but by and large, they will not inherit the knowledge, habits and language of their Tibetan parents and will lose them. Most importantly, they will lose their religion. Since, religion is a rather problematic issue, the children will find it hard which religion they should follow since the parents will try to push their own religion on the kids. Often, they become religious mongrels.
    In the case of marrying Muslims, the women being the weaker party is forced to convert to Islam. These are extremely contentious issues and no Tibetan women should throw away their peaceful and compassionate religion for the pleasure of one life time. Marrying our own kind with similar cultural and religious back ground is a much healthier, safer and reliable prospect than a foreigner with complete different upbringing. So, if my words ring true, keep it in your mind when you are considering your nuptial bliss.

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