News and Views on Tibet

Open letter to every Tibetan

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Image representational (Sketch/Research Leap)

By Penpa Dolma & Tashi Namgyal

For too long we have allowed those in power to make laws for us as a collective. The common people trust authority figures to make laws fair for all and maintain them. In our Tibetan community and in the larger global community, we have witnessed that power that is not accountable to the common people gets easily corrupted. As a consequence, abuse of power becomes rampant.

Our Tibetan Identity Is Not A Monolith

Although we are all Tibetan, this is not our only identity. First and foremost we are earthlings who share this planet with diverse sentient beings from many different backgrounds, different regional associations, with different levels of capacity and living all across the world. Our Tibetan experience is not monolithic. We are multidimensional.

The failure of our administration to appreciate Tibetan diversity has led to deep polarization within the community and the marginalization of those with differing views. Those in power are responsible to create safe and brave spaces for differing opinions and to look for common ground. But their performance has been unskilled and has set a negative precedent for the rest of the community to follow.

The Issue

We are here to say, we have had enough of the dominant powers playing politics with common peoples’ real life pain and suffering. Today, we are bringing “forward” the unaddressed issue of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) within our community. We are not the first one to voice this and we won’t be the last to ask for accountability until we as a collective culture change our stigmatic views on this taboo subject.

According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 (30%) of women globally and up to 1 billion children between the ages of 2-17 yrs old have faced physical, sexual, and emotional violence. The data within our community matches the global data. In Drokmo’s Sexual Abuse Against Students report, 38% of respondents reported experiencing sexual violence. This number is higher than the global average.

In a recent report titled Status of Tibetan Women and Girls in India and Nepal (2018), the research team was able to clearly show that our Tibetan society is not exempt from SGBV. Although the Women’s Empowerment Desk at CTA set some guidelines for prevention and mitigation of such cases, there hasn’t been any accountability in enforcing the guidelines.

As recently as March 29th, 2022, during the 17th Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE)’s budget session, there were attempts by a number of male Chithues (MPs) to resist the necessary budget allocation to address gender inequality. The blind spot of male privilege and the lack of understanding regarding the plight of at least 50% of the Tibetan population who live with the reality of SGBV is stark and heartbreaking. This refusal to address the issue of SGBV continues to perpetuate misinformation about the existence of SGBV within our community.

Legacy of Trauma

If we are honest about ourselves as people who have lost our nation, our livelihoods, and our way of life, we have incurred unimaginable losses and trauma which have dysregulated our nervous systems into survival mechanisms of fight, flight, freeze, and fawn response. While Buddhadharma helps bring us perspective, without daily deep contemplative and somatic practices to support in releasing these traumas, most of our population live in a dysregulated body. We are easily provoked into fight and aggression, flight into addictions and entertainment, freeze into depression and complacency, and fawn into pleasing authority figures even if it’s an oppressive one. We live in a body of shame, guilt, and suppression of feelings and emotions which gets enacted upon those with less power, mainly women and children.

Domestic Violence is rampant in our community, yet, there is no systemic addressing of this crisis.Watching the parliamentary sessions and our MPs’ inability to honor differences and maturely handle disagreements and come back more informed and resilient as an administration is a testament of how deep our unprocessed trauma is. Whenever cases of SGBV are brought within the family system or at a community level, certain predictable patterns arise:

Victim blaming: On top of being abused, victims are blamed for inviting and asking for the abuse. We won’t dare to say that Tibetans invited and asked China to occupy us. It was the colonizing mentality of CCP, abuse of power and might that rendered us as refugees today. Similarly, we cannot blame the victims of SGBV for being overpowered by perpetrators.

Instead, we need to protect the victims and hold abusers accountable. We need systemic protocol. We must provide every resource that victims need to bring these cases forward. We must ask who benefits by blaming the victims of SGBV? Of course, the answer is the perpetrators.

Face saving through glorification of shame: In Buddhist psychology, shame can be considered a virtue. It is a mental factor that restrains causing harm as a result of respect for self and others. It is a conscience that stops us from causing harm.

Unfortunately, the dominant culture has appropriated shame and used it as a collective weapon. Instead of extending validation and compassion towards the victims, shame is used to suppress, hide, and deny its abuse of power, perpetuating more harm and creating false peace. When that repression leads to depression, addiction, and furthers the cycles of violence, we place moral judgements on the victims’ coping mechanisms.

It is time we say enough, break our silences and stand up for victims by asking for systemic change. We must allocate the shame to whom it belongs, and bring accountability, safety, and trust to the victims. As a collective, we must break our silence and normalize having these inconvenient and difficult conversations if we are going to move forward with trust and belonging as a community.

Staying silent and abstaining from mindless speech, harsh speech, and false speech are virtues. Staying silent and abstaining from speaking out on violence is cowardice, not compassion. Forced silence to upkeep lies, violence, and abuse is oppression. It is neither democratic nor peaceful.

We fight for our Tibetan cause, exposing the lies of CCP on a daily basis because we know if we stay silent, we are colluding with the lies and are complicit in our own oppression. Let us not stay silent within our own community.

The polarization of womens’ human rights issues into a political one: When a victim comes forward with an allegation of abuse, and if the perpetrator happens to be a person of authority, such as in the case of Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok, former deputy speaker of our parliament, right away it is politicized as a stance against a certain faction of our community.

For those unaware of this case, please watch the Youtube linked below. Tenzin Chokey la, a victim of Yeshi Phuntsok, came forward to protest his invitation to a prominent gathering in New York. Right away she’s dehumanized, and the case is politicized. Even when she is clear that this is a womens’ human rights issue and she is not interested in political drama between factions.

The sexual abuses of Yeshi Phuntsok leaving multiple victims seems to be an open secret within the Dhasa community. The cowardice and the fear of being politicized and outcast by the exile community has kept many in silence. How many young women and children have to live in deep depression, anxiety, shame, mistrust, swallow the silences, bury and carry the shame of patriarchal violence and numb themselves so that abusers like him can walk freely? Where are the checks and balances here?

We make daily prayers for the happiness and freedom from suffering for all mother sentient beings. Where are the systems to protect the mother beings of this lifetime from harm like SGBV?

Central Tibetan Administration’s Failure

The CTA’s lack of implementing the guidelines to protect women and others in vulnerable positions (i.e. children, uneducated, disabled, transgender and dissenting voices) is a great disappointment to Tibetans like us. This lack of protection weakens our democracy. In our opinion, the inability to bring the perpetrators into accountability and offer reparations to the victims delegitimizes the administration’s authority, not just within the community, but also in the international scene. If we have to bring order and unity through conformity, we are following in the footsteps of authoritarian regimes like China.

The beauty of democracy is in its ability to not just tolerate diverse voices, but in honoring and appreciation of our differences.This diversity births creativity, innovation, and resilience to create novel ways of advocating for the Tibetan cause. The fear and repression of diversity is authoritarian in nature and brittle at core.

By not addressing these serious concerns without bias and by forcing silence upon at least 50% of the population, we are negating the potential fire that lives inside this population to become viable champions of our cause. By undermining this population, CTA is undermining the greater Tibetan cause.

Call to Action

Gender equality means women and LGBTQ+ are asking for bodily autonomy and to be treated as equal partners in building a future for all, especially for the future generations, and to be given access to the resources necessary to manifest this.

We will not survive as a nation without including the wishes and prayers of women, children, and the marginalized populations. We will not survive as a species without coming into the right relationship with this earth and all her beings.

If this letter resonates with you, and you want to see a just Tibetan society, please have these difficult conversations with your family and friends. Normalize having inconvenient but necessary conversations, not just for the sake of the current generations, but for the future and safety of all our children and nation. Ask your regional representatives to the CTA to take a stand on this.

Finally, please share this letter far and wide and join your voice and forces with us by signing this letter.

Gratefully, Signed By

Penpa Dolma (Innovative Yogis, US)

Tashi Namgyal ( Sikkim University, India)

(views expressed are their own)

Penpa Dolma is an entrepreneur and a trauma informed yoga and meditation teacher based in Colorado, USA. Her work centers around transforming individuals and communities through decolonial lens. She is an alumnus of Upper TCV and has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from University of Denver. 

References

Lekdhen, T. (2022, April 13). Opinion: Women’s empowerment is a touchy topic, even in the Parliament. Phayul. Retrieved December 2, 2022, from https://www.phayul.com/2022/04/08/47001/

Pelyoun, T., & Kalsang, T. (2019). Sexual Abuse Against Children. Drokmo

Nyibum, T. (2022, October 7). Current situation. YouTube. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from https://youtu.be/Fr0SJA7Zxl0

WHO. (2021, March 9). Violence against women. World Health Organization. Retrieved December 2, 2022, from

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women

WHO. (2022, November 29). Violence against children. World Health Organization.

Retrieved December 2, 2022, from

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-children

Yangchen, J. (2020, October 20). WED publishes guidelines on sexual and Gender Based Violence(SGBV) for Tibetans-in-exile. Sard Fund. Retrieved December 2, 2022, from https://sardfund.org/wed-publishes-guidelines-on-sexual-and-gender-based-violencesgbv-f or-tibetans-in-exile/

Resources for Trauma Healing

Levine, P. (2014, February 19). Dr. Peter Levine on child sexual abuse and relational trauma. YouTube. Retrieved December 2, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E08tLsWM41A

Keeley Taverner, M. U. (2018, September 11). Why victims of childhood sexual abuse may bury memories of the abuse. YouTube. Retrieved December 2, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxN82S-yJhY

Quinn, J. (2017, May 16). My story of surviving sexual abuse & how to prevent this silent killer | Jenna Quinn | TEDxUTD. YouTube. Retrieved December 2, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HylQgrkp-Yo

Mate, D. G. (2019, January 6). Dr Gabor Maté – childhood trauma creates addiction – part 1/2 | london real. YouTube. Retrieved December 2, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojq-U13726

Additional Resource for Reading

United Nations. (n.d.). Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing 1995. United Nations. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from https://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/

14 Responses

  1. Tibetan families careful of social workers in America., especially of Black ethnicity. They will take children away to foster homes or orphanages. And put father in jail, loses job. And mother loses income. And child cannot study and always depressed and go to drugs. All supports by social workers is fake. They never replace love and support by father and mother. But America think only mother + child = family. Fatherhood is devalued day by day, and made irrelevant. We Tibetans think family is a joint family including grandparents. Nobody cares in the west from the heart. It is all business. Child protection in America also business, and child used as product or commodity to make profit by sending them from one carehome to next where sexual abuse by social workers is very common. But father and mother cannot do nothing. Children is already lost to official corrupt agencies. School teachers tell children to report if mother scolds them for misbehaving in class. Then police give warning to mother to stop scolding or discipline in ” Asian style”.

    Chinese and Indian children become doctors and engineers. Black children become drug dealers and road builders. Why? Black copy too much white western culture of individualism, and went against joint nuclear family values, and extreme freedom to children. Now their children damaged by western liberal ideas that don’t benefit them in careers or family happiness but only empty freedom talk and no success in life. Asian parents sometimes fight but children respect parents and never report at school. White and black families fight and often child or mother or father report to authority, then authority mess up whole family. Father a d mother fight like foolish Brad Pitt and Jolie, and no one has benefit.
    Many American university is afraid of over- successful Asian students due to good family values and no involvement with police or agencies, but focus only on education, culture, religion. Now white people realize Asian culture create better children, and maybe 1970s social experiment is wrong. But it is too late. But we Tibetan keep HH dalai kama advise to not ” assimilate ” into foreign culture. We are returning home to tibet to rebuild our country, our culture and family values and children are attack from foreign power ccp.

    We are not in America to slowly become Americans. But let’s say you try. But you won’t be accepted. Because you are an Asian, and most think you are actually Chinese or Nepalese ( Japanese if your face is beautiful ) when you tell them Chinese people invaded our country.
    Western education is not real, it is controversial and business secrets using humans as products. Be careful when we are too much into the western idea of abuse. ” Sha TSE khala tamnyen Mey”

    I tell my story. I was beaten and scolded at Tibetan school in India, it is true with many Tibetans. But we have no psychological damage. And I am grateful to my teachers who disciplined me. Even HH Dalai Lama was grateful his own teacher best him up with whips when he did not study good by lazy. And HH said it helped him become hard working. Will the writer of article say, Dalai Lama is outdated or say we don’t live in Tibet ?

    This piece writer is causing damage and poison minds of Tibetan child. And start American politics agendas on innocent Tibetan refugees.better phayul to think of damage to society ( done under excuse of empowerment of women) such foreign idea is causing.

    1. Thank you for discouraging, but now you will have to murder me to stop me from talking about Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok’s sexual abuse. I was being compassionate towards this issue although I never back off or will never back off from my claims against the sexual abuser acharya Yeshi Phuntsok. Your concerns are too transparent to see through your intentions that I will roar louder and a promise to you that I will make this protest louder and clearer to some unnecessarily confused one.

  2. Tibetan women better report to only tibetan officials. We know Indian police gangrape women and steal money.

    Same in USA police or UK police, they are racist and sexist organizations. Male police try to establish emotional relationship and sexual relationship when women come to them seeking help. Then some white women sleep with police officers in return for favour. But most don’t. And then police get angry rape the independent woman, give details to criminal organizations, etc. In UK, many women were raped and kidnapped by Police, and these days people say police is totally corrupt and abusive.

    So Tibetan never trust foreigner police. They will rape you, and destroy your father, son, uncle’s and grandparents in the name of women empowerment . They will play family members against each other and make enemies, and they leave, case closed. But after the river passes, the bridge has to stay. I heard many stories like this in new York and Toronto. Terrible stuff.

    Let’s focus on tibetan nuns in exile who suffered gross sexual violations from chinese police. Let’s focus on tibetan girls suffering rape threats from Indian landlords in big cities. Let’s focus on workplace abuse where Boss abuses secretaries.
    Abuse by a husband to wife in tibetan context can never be worse than abuse by a foreigner to a tibetan wife. A wife bringing an outsider like american police to solve a tibetan family quarrel is harmful to both the family itself and wider Tibetan cause of 6 million souls suffering worse atrocities everyday.

  3. Ethnic Tibetans follow a mixed-up socio-political worldview with amalgamation of both antiquoted Indian and Chinese Conficious values.

    But this has come into conflict what what political scientists call a clash of polar civilizations in a defined space.

    The author here forcibly inserting a pure white capitalist Eurocentric worldview into a traditionally spiritual culture of the Himalayas smacks of cultural invasion, with the author of playing the role of Bawa phuntsok wangyal leading so called liberating army forces into Tibet saying ” the upper class is commiting domestic internal abuse against poor lower class. We have intervene. ” Due to Chinese, upper class is like a male patrichial, mysogynistic husband while serfs are equated to oppressed wife. Army is equated to the liberating force, like police breaking a family based on domestic abuse, and li wearing the women ( tibet serfs ) from the husband ( Tibet aristocrats) on the basis that there’s is domestic violence happening.

    Domestic abuse support in Europe and american has often left women and children in the worse situation than they ready are. Police often start a legal case but there is no strong financial and housing support. Rich western Governments say they have no money to give houses to men and women suffering domestic abuse. How can Tibetan govt give houses to abused women for years and years when american and British govts cannot find victims for more than few months ?

    Intervention I to an existing autonomous system is always fraught with controversies.

  4. It is sad for all Tibetan Buddhist to read of scourge of domestic violence and mysogyny present in Europe and north America. All these women and men who suffer violence deserve apology from their governments.

    But due to our compassionate nature and buddhism, we believe in equality of all genders. Therefore Tibetan society has literally no domestic abuse, unlike america where women are often abused my men. We must be thankful to tireless work off hh dalai lama for being the most successful refugee in the world is in terms of our attitudes are around gender equality.

    I worry about younger generations in America, Canada, and europe where people culturally abuse women. Parents have moral duty to impart teachings of lord Buddha and hh dalai lama about gender equality so that they don’t grow up mysogyniatic like Inji people. Our civilization from Nalanda is at least 500 years ahead of the zietgiest of the Fraustian civilization, a civilization which meanwhile is on the decline, infested by debauchery and hedonism and carnal lust.

    If Acharya yeshi phuntsok is suspected to be rapist, any Tibetan in the world can file a report to their local police station. They will check the evidence and arrest him by putting him on international Police Interpol list for wanted criminals. If he did not rape her, then she should be arrested for false allegations and defamation.

    Don’t co opt Faustian culture ideals of white folks. Himalayan civilization belongs to Indus valley civilization from classical India and partly Confucius-ideals from classical china based on concept called Harmony and strong family values. Our civilization is not individualistic right-based, it is collectivist in nature and responsibility-based. A fox is a fox, a tiger is a tiger. They jump different lengths due to different sizes. No one wants to break their own backs. And also chalk and cheese should be mixed – or result is utter chaos and damage.

    This writer might right Decline of the West by professor Oswald Sprangler. And also Prof Tyonbee on eastern vs western civilization, their past and their futures. But the best is Ancient Wisdom in the Modern World by Hh Dalai Lama of Tibet on how the Christian west can learn from the Buddhist orient.

  5. It is sad for all Tibetan Buddhist to read of scourge of domestic violence and mysogyny present in Europe and north America. All these women and men who suffer violence deserve apology from their governments.

    But due to our compassionate nature and buddhism, we believe in equality of all genders. Therefore Tibetan society has literally no domestic abuse, unlike america where women are often abused my men. We must be thankful to tireless work off hh dalai lama for being the most successful refugee in the world is in terms of our attitudes are around gender equality.

    I worry about younger generations in America, Canada, and europe where people culturally abuse women. Parents have moral duty to impart teachings of lord Buddha and hh dalai lama about gender equality so that they don’t grow up mysogyniatic like Inji people. Our civilization from Nalanda is at least 500 years ahead of the zietgiest of the Fraustian civilization, a civilization which meanwhile is on the decline, infested by debauchery and hedonism and carnal lust.

    If Acharya yeshi phuntsok is suspected to be rapist, any Tibetan in the world can file a report to their local police station. They will check the evidence and arrest him by putting him on international Police Interpol list for wanted criminals. If he did not rape her, then she should be arrested for false allegations and defamation.

    1. I welcome everyone of you to help me to put this case to justice Orelse proof me wrong. I also welcome to get me arrested or any punishment just incase I am found guilty. I myself been requesting every (BODY) under the Central Tibetan government to help me out with this case to put an investigation Orelse it’s not good for the government itself to let anyone come out in the social media to create trouble within the community in such a way is not an issue to let go like that. I genuinely am a victim and also stand for the victims I know of the same abuser Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok. Please help me to help others and the future men and women and the generations to come. Thank you.

  6. Author appears to think abuse is physical and abusers are always male.

    Abuse knows no gender or class. Look at Johny deep, brad Pitt, Will Smith case – these are powerful men quietly suffering emotional violence from their partners.

    All domestic abuse pamphlets should be gender-blind, colour blind. Captions such as
    ” Domestic abuse support for WOMEN ”
    is both sexist in nature and is an objectfication of women.

    Correct caption should read –
    ” Domestic abuse support for MEN and WOMEN”.

    Women and domestic abuse are not synonyms. All violence is wrong. So all genders LGBTQ plus should be acknowledged equally.

    The author also appears heavily influenced by Western culture. We are Tibetan people. We believe in 2-parent families. Single parent families often destroy children. We do not want 50% divorce rate, and harm children in the process.

    Author should read professor Jordan B Peterson on domestic abuse and gender parity in the western capitalist societies.

    1. I am a victim myself and a witnesses of social abuse and threats in all aspects against some of us victims. I do agree with your point of view’s victim could be men and women, children or elderly, this is all gender and all ages. The point is we as a victim, we gather courage to speak up, which Ofcourse takes time to figure out to get over it from every angle but couldn’t get over it, because the traumatic event don’t just let you move on, it binds you in that moment and make you a depressed zombie, and even if the years and decades passed by, victims are captured in that very helpless moment of trauma is the most painful experience one would ever feel throughout a life , it’s worse then lifetime sentence prison. So please help eachother to spread the awareness and put an action towards these sexual abuser in any community, for any gender, and all ages. Thank you.

  7. Gyalche Pa’s response to the piece which appeared strongly motivated by politic enlightened me a lot. Though the middle age lady called Chokyi appeared on facebook live few times. I had the opportunity to watch at least three times. All the times, she changed her statements and her supporters chose what favors their agenda. Such as Tenyang, a middle age lady chose the first Facebook live version of Choekyi where she expressed that she herself was the victim of rape. Tenyang as confirming the victim on her Facebook live, she said, ” I listened to Chokyi seven times what she expressed and today I appeared on Facebook to support her because she was the victim of rape”. Days later Chokyi appeared again in the Facebook live and said, ” I am not the victim but I know that there are some victims. They shouldn’t be fear of revenge, raise your voice, I can help you”. Third time when she appeared in the Facebook live, she said, ” I am not the victim but the victim was my sister”. Hence, it is clear that she is not the victim but then why she wanted to disrupt the event where organization was honouring a Monk for his thirty years relentless services for the cause of Tibet and Tibetans. I don’t support both unless there is no clear evidence. In fact eventually she was seen shouting with a group of interesting people who themselves have a lots of stories in the community. Their intend was then clear to me. The attempt to create disturbance for the event was failed due to overwhelming public support and Chithun Tsogpa New York was benefitted with rental income.

    1. My dear Khenrap, you should have a listening ears to understand and have a heart to feel orhers pain to understand the whole thing. Since you already choose to stick with what you know, you wouldn’t hear me even if you watch my videos 100 times if that Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok is a dear one to you. It is not only heartbreaking to see some of you not acknowledging the truth but avoids and put the victim through a judgmental position, on her character, and what not. Like yourselves, I am a part of the community too and I am from a respectful and religious family background. FYI I also have serve our community in my own way in various field during my younger years. But didn’t you get the picture why did I disappeared all of a sudden throughput these years where as I used to be so active when there were no social media during those days and suddenly I appeared with full of anxiety on my face, pain in my voice and disturbed on Facebook livestream was noticed by thousands of people but you because you already have your plan set. Sad even after watching it for three times, you didn’t notice how I was manipulated by Ngari chithun tsokpa association with threats, and fool around and attacking on social media by different sets of groups of yours is all I expressed in the same video. And also the reason why I went on livestream that morning was I was frustrated from the threats and attacks throughout the days and nights and I also mentioned I haven’t slept for days, because of the threats. You wouldn’t notice because you were just watching not noticing. You need a heart to feel and brain to question yourself.

  8. The issue of women’s rights, domestic violence and perception of LGBT community among Tibetans is a rather new subject. While there is no denying there must be some violence against women in Tibetan homes such as domestic violence, there is not much curtailment of women’s rights in our Buddhist culture. The Lord Buddha gave equal rights to women to become nuns just like their male counterpart. Besides, he allowed girls as young as fifteen to become fully ordained nuns as a special treatment for those girls who are in danger of being prohibited to become nuns by the decree of the king of the land. On the other hand, a male novice monk must be twenty years old before they are eligible to become a fully ordained monk! The Buddha never discriminated on gender basis and that is why Buddhism became popular in India owing to the inclusive nature of its message. To this day, many of India’s most marginalised communities such as the harijans, scheduled castes or low caste Hindus are becoming Buddhists in the footsteps of Dr Ambedkar. There are no atrocities committed against LGBT communities. They are accepted with much curiosity because it’s a new concept to most Tibetans. Buddhism is the foundation and the very basis of Tibetan culture and Tibetans are a amazingly compassionate people with which there are few parallels. Therefore, violence against women is not at all to the level that the author of this piece seem to suggest. Tibetan women can wear what they like and there is no injunction to wear certain clothes or not to wear certain clothes like Hijab controversy in Islam. Tibetans don’t have vice police or a guardian for the women to ensure they live by certain edicts by the dominant male.
    Tibetan women don’t have to take the name of their husbands to prove they are the property of their husbands! Unfortunately, many Tibetan women in the west unsuspectingly take their husbands name to shackle themselves as a property of their husbands! I see this as a creeping western male dominated culture which denies the women any identity of herself and is reduced to a show pony of their male spouse. I reckon these unwitting women must be under the impression that it’s a progressive development to put themselves in such a coddled position!
    Tibetan women doesn’t experience dowry deaths which is so common in South Asia. The bride is pestered endlessly for alleged lack of dowry and often forced to commit suicide since she can’t return to her home owing to “shame”! The most common dowry deaths are deliberate murder by the son’s father and mother, who often uses home gas explosions to kill the unfortunate victim and give the impression, it was caused by an innocent gas cylinder accidentally bursting itself! There are no cases of such heinous crimes committed by Tibetans. There is no so called honour killing which is most prevalent in Pakistan and Islamic countries and communities, where girls who doesn’t follow the decree of their parents and have nuptial relations with males that are not acceptable to the girl’s parents wish are murdered in cold blood by their own parents. It’s also committed by Hindu followers as well. In our society, the parents play a big role in the matrimonial arrangement but no parent would ever kill their own girl because she has a fling with other boys who are not to the liking of her parents! No Tibetan parent would ever even contemplate such abominable deed. Why Tibetans have no such restrictive attitude to towards the girls is because of our Buddhist religion which is tolerant because it is compassionate. It’s based on compassion for all beings.
    My take is that all beings without the label of male or female should be TREATED EQUALLY! As in nature, the weak ones are always treated worse than the powerful ones. This should not happen but it happens because of the power balance. We have to make sure that as per the Buddha’s teaching, we should give more protection to the weak. This is where compassion comes. We should have more compassion for the weak than the powerful because the powerful ones are capable of protecting themselves while the weak are not. That’s where the help is needed. Most importantly, if one considers oneself a follower of the compassionate Buddha, we should not hurt anyone let alone one’s own life partner, friends or strangers. However, our demons (ཉོན་མོངས་དུག་གསུམ་) get the better of us and some males beat their wives and torture them! THIS MOST UNFORTUNATE! Even the great Mahatma Gandhi admits in his book “My experiments with truth” that one night he dragged his wife Kasturba to the gate of his house after a fight and threatened to throw her out”!!! No women should be treated like this and every men must put themselves in the shoes of the poor women and restraint themselves from such acts. The Dalai Lama advised the Burmese monks who are alleged to have taken part in the burning down of the homes of the Rohingya Muslims, that they should remember the face of Buddha when they are filled with such evil intent. Likewise, those men who are violent towards their spouses must remember the face of their mother when they are acting violently and refrain from causing unnecessary hurt, trauma and fear to own spouse who is the mother of one’s own children.
    The answer to prevent domestic violence depends on educating our young people on Buddhist code of conduct -Ahimsa (བྱམས་བརྩེ་) from a very young age. That is the surest way to guide them to respect others and in future ones own partner. Making laws and rules may help but it’s limited. Making our whole society non-violent (འཚེ་མེད་) will ensure a healthy society with family and communal harmony that contributes to the happiness of each individual and the protection of every men and women from violence.
    Coming back to the politics that the authors spoke about, we have to be fair to both parties. The trouble with western feminism is, it always portrays the women as the victim and the men as the perpetrator. Unfortunately, if we go down with this attitude, woman’s rights will be reduced to an anti-men crusade! If this happens, men will also feel the need to protect themselves. What’s the point of waging war between the two sexes?
    A certain Tibetan woman alleged a certain monk official “touched” “molested”? her! As far as I know, it is actually not the real “victim” but she is said to be protesting on her sisters behalf who is the alleged accuser! This is odd to start with. What really transpired between the accused and the accuser is shrouded in mystery! The accusation has surfaced only in 2022 when the accused was honoured by his own community as a mark of their respect for his work as a chitue for many years and Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan parliament.
    There was not a wisp of murmur when he was appointed as Chitue nor when he stood for the Sikyong Candidate in 2021 election and as the Speaker of the house! It’s something like a decade ago, the incident is alleged to have taken place. So, it’s a historical allegation and not something that happened in recent times. If it was a serious misdemeanour why didn’t the accuser come out right there and then? Why was it left to incubate all these years? Most astounding of all was the timing when the exile community was raging with the attack on democracy by certain vested interests by sabotaging སྤྱི་འཐུས་གྲོས་ཆོད་༣༩ which was agreed upon by two thirds majority to impeach the Supreme Justice Commissioners. Anybody, no matter who it is has no right to interfere let alone nullify the two thirds majority Parliaments decision to impeach the the three SJC. But this is exactly what happened which is nothing but an ATTACK ON DEMOCRACY AND THE RULE OF LAW! When a law is enacted by the elected members of parliament, nobody, including the Dalai Lama has no right to undo or nullify the decision. This is called the rule of law. Owing to this issue, the community was split in the middle. At such a juncture of communal polarisation and discord, one party decided to honour the leaders who had made the decision to impeach the SJC while the other party made every attempt to discredit the other party’s conferment of honour to the two leaders. At this combustible political fire, the accuser jumped herself or (was she thrown?) with a flame of accusation to set alight the tinter box of communal conflagration that engulfed the Tibetan diaspora. So, who was politicising the issue? What would the other party supposed to do? Support her and humiliate their own people whom they were honouring or turn a deaf ear and ignore them? Most damning of all was the ironic drama that the one of the supporter of the accused (she had only four at the most), was himself a women abuser whose sexual dalliances and betrayal of a young SFF girl Tashi Dolma committed suicide!!! He was one of the supporters standing by her side! You couldn’t miss the irony of it all! Since, there is no clear statement of what really transpired between the accuser and the accused, and since, it’s a historical accusation that has been brought to light more as a political weapon than genuine grievances, I would suggest that Tibetan feminists stop bringing highly contentious and inflammatory accusations to get attention for your cause because unless you can prove beyond reasonable doubt it is just a heresy. According to the law, the accused is innocent until proven guilty if you follow the laws enacted by mankind! Hurting is not one way street. By maligning a monk by accusations without any prove, it is hurting the person who is also a human being with feelings like you and me because it stigmatises him like a woman who is accused of being a prostitute without any prove!

  9. Thank you for writing this letter. This is a matter of huge importance to our community and its future. If we don’t address these deeply problematic but often neglected power-based abuses in our society, they would destroy the social fabric of our community already scattered across the globe. In the long run, this is even worse than the current parochial regionalism we are still recovering from. It is time we gather every ounce of courage to speak against such abuses, listen and support those come out and sacrifice for the greater good.

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