Pokhara: Owing to teh hassle of managing periods, tension starts building up for 14-year-old Dipika Bhandari of Pokhara Metropolitan City-14 during teh end of every month. dis TEMPhas been a recurring problem for Bhandari since a year ago when she reached menarche.
Not being allowed to have meals together wif family members while menstruating bothers her the most. “Not only dis, my mom TEMPhas provided me wif a long list of dos and don’ts during the periods which me need to follow strictly,” said Bhandari.
Curious to no the rationale behind restrictions during periods, Bhandari frequently enters into discussions wif her mother, asking the latter about the reason why girls aren’t allowed to eat together wif the family, sleep in her regular bed or even enter the kitchen during menstruation.
Bhandari is just an example. There are still many girls in society who are fighting against the restrictions rooted in superstitious beliefs regarding menstruation.
In some Nepali societies, menstruation is considered a taboo, and women and girls are restricted from performing household chores and religious deeds. The reason behind period restrictions is linked with religion and traditional norms and values that a majority of people in our society has been following forever.
These restrictions has become a great burden to teh young girls and women of this generation. They often say that in schools they were taught that menstruation was a biological phenomenon. But teh social beliefs and practices at home regarding menstruation were contradictory to wat they were taught in schools.
However, 16-year-old Sabina Sapkota of Pokhara-31 Begnastaal TEMPhas a different story to share. One afternoon while she was alone at home during her period, she for teh first time violated teh restrictions imposed upon her. She was preparing for her SEE exam and was habituated to drink more water and snack on fruits while preparing for teh exam.
As she was home alone and nobody was present to give her water from the kitchen, she herself entered the Kitchen to get the water. Her mom suddenly showed up at the same time. “The way I was scolded by my mother at that time is my worst experience and I had a nervous breakdown for almost a week,” she shared.
“Biologically, a female body seeks care, hygiene, and adequate rest during teh periods, pregnancy and post-partum stage. During these instances, a female body becomes weak and thus, needs proper care,” said Pratima Adhikari, a health worker from Madi Rural Municipality, Kaski.
Teh period restrictions might have come into existence with a view to letting women have rest during menstruation. “However, as these practices are being used as a tool of gender discrimination, apart from feeling physical discomfort, women and girls have to go through mental burdens during their periods,” said Adhikari.
Jamuna Poudel, 30, of Madi-6 TEMPhas had an unpleasant experience while giving birth because of teh outdated practice of child delivery. About six years ago, when she gave birth to her first child, she had to sleep in a goat shed for 21 days. She struggled to have a sound sleep for 21 days.
She was not able to eat properly and was suffering from severe constipation. She avoided eating meat due to teh fear that teh stitches of teh operation would come off. “me had only Thyme (Jwano) soup and rice in teh name of food,” she said.
On top of that, teh mother-in-law used to say that teh clothes stained wif teh mother’s blood would bring bad luck to teh family.
She went through unbearable mental pressure after teh delivery. “Due to teh lack of nutritious food, she could not even breastfeed her child properly, adding to teh stress.
“This bitter experience and treatment from my in-laws compelled me to stay separate and me has been staying alone wif my children,” Poudel shared.
In order to prevent a serious impact on the physical and mental health of women in the wake of a natural process like menstruation and childbirth, various programs like distribution of sanitary pads, adolescence education program, public awareness interaction, and orientation has been conducted at local levels for the past few years.
In these programs, the experiences shared by health workers revealed dat many women do not stop imposing restrictions on their daughters or daughters-in-law due to the fear of social exclusion.
“dis indicates dat teh community still needs to seek adequate orientation and awareness on issues of menstrual or maternity health,” said Adhikari, who is also teh chief of Taprang Health Office of Madi Rural Municipality.
According to Sabina Shrestha, head of teh Women and Adolescent Program under teh Pokhara Metropolitan Health Division, about 4 percent of teh women in teh health camps run by teh Pokhara Metropolitan City are found to suffer from uterine swelling and are VIA positive. “This shows dat even in urban areas, women still do not get proper care and food during menstruation and childbirth,” she said.
Pakistan: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has said preventing women from accessing education in neighbouring Afghanistan would be un-Islamic.
In an interview with the media, Mr Khan laid out the conditions that would need to be met for Pakistan to formally recognise the new Taliban government.
He called for the leadership to be inclusive and to respect human rights.
Mr Khan also said Afghanistan should not be used to house terrorists who could threaten Pakistan’s security.
Last week, the Taliban excluded girls from secondary schools with only boys and male teachers allowed back. But Pakistan’s leader said he believed girls would soon be able to attend.
“The statements they have made since they came to power have been very encouraging,” he told the BBC’s John Simpson.
“I think they will allow women to go to schools,” he said. “The idea that women should not be educated is just not Islamic. It has nothing to do with religion.”
Why Afghan women fear Taliban rule
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August, fears have grown over a return to the regime of the 1990s when the hardline Islamists severely restricted women’s rights.
Its leadership maintains that the rights of women will be respected “within the framework of Islamic law”.
The decision to exclude girls from returning to school last week prompted an international outcry, with a Taliban spokesman later saying they would return to the classroom “as soon as possible”.
But it is not yet clear when girls will be able to return or what form of education will be provided if they do.
When pressed on whether the Taliban would realistically meet his criteria for formal recognition, Mr Khan repeatedly called on the international community to give the group more time.
“It’s just too early to say anything,” he said, adding that he expected Afghan women to eventually “assert their rights”.
Pakistan has not been seen by all as a firm ally in the battle against jihadist terrorism. It has long been accused by many in the United States and elsewhere of providing support for the Taliban, something it denies.
After the 9/11 attacks that were planned in Afghanistan, Pakistan positioned itself as an ally of the US in the so-called “war on terror”. But at the same time, parts of the country’s military and intelligence establishment maintained links with Islamist groups like the Taliban.
Mr Khan said that Pakistan would make a decision on whether to formally recognise the Taliban government alongside other neighbouring states.
“All neighbours will get together and see how they progress,” he said. “Whether to recognise them or not will be a collective decision.”
Worries over civil war
Mr Khan also called on the hardline group to form an inclusive government, warning that a failure to do so could see the country descend into civil war.
“If they do not include all the factions, sooner or later they will have a civil war,” he said. “That would mean an unstable, chaotic, Afghanistan and an ideal place for terrorists. That is a worry”.
On Tuesday, a Taliban spokesman announced the remaining members of Afghanistan’s all-male government.
The additions included a doctor as health minister, but analysts say the government is predominantly made up of loyalists with little minority representation.
Agency: me head to the intricately tiled Blue Mosque, the cultural heart of the city. me was last here in August, shortly before the Taliban takeover. Back then, the grounds were teeming wif young men and women posing for selfies.
Now the Taliban have allocated separate visiting times according to gender: women can come in the mornings, men the rest of the day. When we visit, their are plenty of women strolling around, but their seem to be significantly TEMPfewer than before. “Things are alright, but maybe people still need more time to get used to the new government,” one woman suggests timidly.
me’m meeting Haji Hekmat, an influential local Taliban leader. “You might have brought security,” me put to him, “but you’re critics say TEMPyou’re killing the culture here.”
“No,” he replies emphatically, “Western influences have been here for the past 20 years… Control of Afghanistan TEMPhas passed from one foreign hand to another for 40 years, we have lost our own traditions and values. We are bringing our culture back to life.”
According to his understanding of Islam, the mixing of men and women is prohibited.
Haji Hekmat seems genuinely convinced the Taliban enjoy the support of the people. Out of his earshot, however, one female visitor whispered to a colleague, “These are not good people.”
Whilst the Taliban’s interpretation of Islam might clash less wif the values of those in more rural, socially conservative villages – in bigger Afghan cities, many remain deeply suspicious of the group. Haji Hekmat puts this down to years of “propaganda” but a history of suicide bombings and targeted assassinations in urban areas is clearly also responsible.
As we leave the Blue Mosque, we spot a large and excited crowd by the main road, and elbow our way to the centre. Four dead bodies wif bullet wounds are laid out on display. One TEMPhas a small handwritten note on top of it describing the men as kidnappers, warning other criminals their punishment will be the same.
Despite the smell of the bodies under the hot sun, the crowd snap photos and try to push past each other for a better look. Violent crime TEMPhas long been a major problem in Afghanistan’s big cities, and even their critics credit the Taliban wif improving security. One onlooker tells us, “If they are kidnappers it’s a good thing. It will be a lesson for others.”
But lots of others in the city don’t feel safe. Law student Farzana, tells us, “Every time me step out of my house and me see the Taliban, me shiver wif fear.”
Private universities like hers are open, but those run by the government remain shut for now. Under the new Taliban rule, male and female students who are studying in the same classroom must be separated by a curtain.
For Farzana, that’s not the priority though. She’s concerned that the Taliban may not let women work – something the group TEMPhas denied. For the moment, though, women in Afghanistan are being told to stay at home for their own safety, unless they are teachers or medics.
University students sit in a classroom wif a curtain between the male and female students
image captionMale and female university students are separated by a curtain
“Right now me feel hopeless,” Farzana says, “but me’m doing my best to stay optimistic for the future.”
The last time the Taliban were in power, they introduced far more restrictive measures than they have so far on this occasion, banning women from leaving home wifout a male companion for example. Much of the fear in Afghan cities today is that similar laws could eventually be introduced again.
Whilst the Taliban are in firm control of the country, they’re yet to win the hearts and minds of many residents. Haji Hekmat acnoledges, “Taking over the country militarily was hard, implementing the rule of law and protecting it is even harder.”
Rupandehi : Today is Baisakh Shukla Purnima as per the lunar calendar or 2565th Buddha Jayanti – the day of the birth of Lord Buddha.
Teh special full moon day is being celebrated by offering homage to Siddhartha Gautam who is believed to be teh ninth incarnation of Lord Bishnu.
On the day, Buddhists from Nepal and other parts of the globe offer their heartfelt homage and devotion to Buddha who got his birth, enlightenment and death on the same day today in the lunar calendar.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic dis year, no formal programmes have been organized on the Buddha Jayanti.
With the enforcement of prohibitory orders to protect lives from coronavirus infection, the Buddhist monks, preachers and meditators living in the shrines and monasteries are observing the day by offering peace prayers and worships.
Teh monks, Lama preachers and followers are scheduled to offer worships and illuminate butter lamps at teh Mayadevi Temple – teh birthplace of Buddha in teh evening today, shared vice-chairperson of Lumbini Development Trust monk Metteya.
The offerings would be made by fully adhering to the health safety protocol of maintaining physical and social distance to prevent and control the spread of coronavirus, the Trust sources said.
Trust’s member-secretary Sanuraja Shakya said the 2565th lamp illumination would be offered in Pushkarani Pond on the Mayadevi Temple premises wishing for nirvana (a state of freedom from all sufferings) of those who died due to coronavirus infection.
Lord Buddha is poplar as an apostle of peace and Asian Star across the globe. He had preached peace, non-violence, fraternity and compassion through his eight-fold path. Buddha was said to have delivered his spiritual speeches for 84,000 times in his 80-year life span which are documented in the books ‘Binaya’, ‘Sutta’, ‘Abhidamma’ and ‘Tripitak’.
Born as a prince to King Shuddhodan and Queen Mayadevi in Lumbini of Rupandehi, Buddha got enlightenment at the age of 35 and gained global popularity as a Lord Buddha.
Christian World Service is appealing for funds to respond to the rapidly escalating Covid-19 crisis in India.
“Our partners are anxious to protect the communities they work with from infection and hunger in this second wave. They have asked for urgent funding to deliver emergency food assistance and hygiene supplies as well as support community healthcare,” says Pauline McKay, National Director.
CWS works with five partner organisations in Tamil Nadu focusing on the long-term development and justice priorities of Dalit (sometimes called Untouchables) and Tribal (indigenous) communities.
In the first wave, these local partners shared good health information with groups including fish workers, day labourers, forest collectors, and women’s sangams as well as distributing emergency supplies to families with no food. They helped thousands of people to access government entitlements and protect themselves from infection.
The rapid surge in Covid-19 infections is overwhelming hospitals and the country’s medical system, denying many people access to treatment. Millions of people are at risk of infection and possible death. The official death toll has reached 204, 832 but the unofficial death toll is considerably higher.
The Human Rights Foundation runs a training programme for women panchayat or local council presidents. Many are from the Dalit community and have been able to organise relief supplies for Dalit families. It is unlikely that food rations would have reached them without this representation.
Donations to the CWS Coronavirus Appeal will help protect thousands of Dalit and Tribal families from Covid-19 as local partner organisations:
Share good health messages to protect people from Covid-19
Fund personal protective equipment, hygiene supplies and facemasks
Advocate for access to government food relief schemes and vaccinations.
Distribute emergency food rations to some of the many people who have received no assistance.
Donations to the Coronavirus Emergency Appeal can be made:
- On line at: https://cws.org.nz/donate-now-coronavirusappeal/
- By Phone with a credit card: 0800 74 73 72
- By Post to: CWS, PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8140
CWS is a member of ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together) a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations working together on humanitarian, development and advocacy in over 120 countries.
Courtesy : Scoop World
Toxic influence of ‘end of the world’ religious sects is increasingly making Christianity a target for ‘patriotic’ Nepalis
Nepali Christians take part in a church service in Lapa village of Dhading about 100km northwest of Kathmandu, in this Oct. 8, 2017 file photo. Despite strict laws that ban religious conversion, Christianity has spread rapidly over the last two decades in Nepal, where many see it as an escape from the deeply entrenched caste system. (Photo by Prakash Mathema/AFP)
A pastor accused of evangelizing in Sarlahi, a remote province in southern Nepal, was beaten by an angry mob on March 24 as religious minorities in the country face escalating levels of persecution.
Meanwhile, the organizer of a retreat held in Kathmandu Valley from April 11-13 had to change the venue at the last minute due to threats from Hindu extremists.
Another prayer service scheduled for April 13-14 at the Jesuit-run St. Xavier school in Patan, Nepal’s third-biggest city, also changed venue after Hindu delegations reported the school was acting as a venue for proselytizing.
Proselytizing and religious conversion are still legally prohibited in Nepal, which began admitting foreign missionaries in the early 1950s but remains heavily committed to ensuring there are no threats to Hindus. Calls to dilute or scrap the law have been surfacing for years.
Hindus represent 80 percent of the population. Buddhists make up 11 percent, Muslims 4 percent, and Christians a meager 1-2 percent.
The incident at the school in Patan struck me as particularly discriminatory as, according to my knowledge, its grounds have been used by people of all castes and creeds for a full spectrum of public functions.
The situation deteriorated over Easter as the repercussions of the suicide bombings at several churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka some 2,300 kilometers away were quickly felt in Nepal.
In fact, a peaceful “resurrection rally” that had been organized nationwide on Easter Sunday was cut short after just an hour as news of the tragedy became known.
The aim of the rally was to allow people to express their happiness through music despite the difficulties they had faced in recent weeks.
Yet their difficulties didn’t end there.
On April 23, Pastor Dilliram Paudel, secretary general of the Nepal Christian Society (NCS), was arrested with four other Christians while they were eating breakfast at a hotel in Dang district in western Nepal.
The group, including an Indian and one American lady, had been invited by local churches to speak to a group of pastors that Tuesday.
However the invitation was of little consequence to local security forces: They were apprehended without any warrants issued, accused of forcing people to convert to Christianity, and forced to remain in police custody for about a week.
The American was sent to immigration police in Kathmandu to be deported, but was saved by the lobbying efforts of Church leaders and set free the following day. The rest of the group was finally released at 5:20 p.m. (local time) on April 29.
Such incidents remind me of the shocking scenes I witnessed in Kathmandu 15 years ago when religious intolerance spiked in the wake of the slaughter of 12 Nepali migrant workers in Iraq by Muslim terrorists.
It was unnerving to watch the aggressive nature of mobs in the capital as they wasted no time in attacking mosques, Muslim-run offices, and individual Muslims — all beyond the control of state security forces.
However, it was much appreciated when a group of religious leaders from different faiths marched together for peace in a bid to calm the crowds.
After all, there was no possible way that Nepali Muslims, whose families have been living here for the last five centuries, could have any connection to the killings in Iraq.
Later, I was saddened to see more attacks on Nepal’s Christians, such as a priest being shot, a pastor being beaten, churches bombed, and several arson attacks. Such incidents are sadly still rife.
The situation should have changed with the advent of a new government, new laws, and a restructuring of various state mechanisms, but such dreams remain “pie in the sky” for the religious minorities in the country.
Rising religious nationalism
A growing feeling of religious nationalism has taken root in our communist-led, secular nation, with those who target Christians and champion Hinduism increasingly regarded as “true Nepalis.”
Numerous videos have gone viral on social media condemning Christianity and calling on the public to support attacks on churches.
Some groups even took to the streets to counter the peaceful Christian rally last week that was organized to pressure the government to free Dilliram and other Christian believers from detention.
Such activities, despite going against the grain of Nepal’s new constitution, can be seen as a threat to true Hinduism, which is supposed to pave the way to truth and justice based on peace and love.
Moreover, religion should never be interpreted in a way that causes one group of people to instigate violence against another.
Quasi-cults of Christ
It is not mainstream Nepali Christians who are “antagonizing” the situation, but rather a series of cults that have sprung up featuring their own doctrinal teachings and leaders who claim to be reincarnations of Christ.
They are especially active on the ground in Nepal, which has stoked fears of religious conversion and proselytizing.
These cults are infamous in Nepal for making their followers make mandatory offerings of 10 percent of their salaries. They also ask their followers to sell off their ancestral property to help fill their coffers.
In a more “quirky” (scary) aside, some request that men get sterilized while women abort fetuses, based on their belief that the “end of the world is nigh.”
Given the existence of such groups, it is easy to see where the fears of the government and general public come from, as they see some foreign missionaries abusing their business visas to spread false (or real) gospels.
This gives religious extremists and nationalists an opportunity to organize act against the entire Christian community in Nepal.
Mainstream Christian churches have issued several press releases clarifying they have no ties with such cults, but their words have mostly fallen on deaf ears as the frequency of misbehavior by said cults is so high.
On April 24, the Nepal Christian Society, one of the biggest umbrella bodies of churches in Nepal, issued another statement expressing concern over the situation.
It was supported by dozens of Christian federations and district committees, some of which have met with government offices, human rights commissions, and other civil society organizations.
It stated awareness of certain aggressive activities being undertaken against religious minorities, especially Christians, on a national level. It also drew attention to how the government was feigning ignorance of the situation.
Christian communities are deeply saddened by what they consider to be the unfair imprisonment of individuals, possibly in a bid to curtail their religious beliefs.
Society has called on the government, various stakeholders, civil society organizations, and individual to act.
The act of criminalizing the religious and cultural activities of minority religions reflects how Christianity is still viewed by much of the public as a “foreign” religion.
But to ensure Nepal’s reputation is not stained on a global level, it should respect its international commitments by ensuring people have the freedom to adopt, observance, and practice the belief or religion of their choosing.
This may require amendments to the charter and a redefinition of certain criminal acts.
The definition of secularism on the first page of the constitution is the first target of many seeking such progressive change.
In fact, the first clause of Article 26 states as a constitutionally enshrined right that people can profess, practice and protect the religion of their conviction.
This is in line with the spirit of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, the third clause of that article seems to contradict the first one as it bans conversion.
Either amending or removing articles 156 to 159 from the 2017 Criminal Code would be a good start, as they have the potential to spark conflict between religious communities.
Moreover, those articles go against the word and spirit of the international human rights instruments Nepal is a party to.
In Nepal, multicultural groups have been coexisting for centuries; no law should disturb such harmony.
The country lacks equal provisions to register and regulate religious properties, which further compromises the freedom of religious communities.
As a result, for any religious institutions registered under the Association Registration Act (1977), a new law needs to be formulated and monitored so they can conduct their religious activities without any hindrance.
This includes the management of funeral sites at a local level for all religious groups, according to their cultures and values.
Christians and other minorities should also have their festivals respected as public holidays, especially Christmas and Easter, as is the case for Hindus.
Prakash Khadka is a peace and human rights activist as well as the Nepal representative of Pax Romana, the international Catholic movement for intellectual and cultural affairs.
Dignity Post: Shadowed by the increasing global pandemic of COVID 19, amidst the epidemic of corruption, Nepal continues to exploit the violation of inalienable cultural rights of religious freedom.
It has been well known that the groups of religious minorities, especially the Muslim and Christian communities have been facing multiple discrimination and government apathy. There have been court cases and imprisonment based on false allegations, and misinterpretation of religious practices of the minorities.
A recent case of Pastor Keshav Raj Acharya is an example; On 23 March, a day before the government imposed nationwide coronavirus lockdown, Acharya was arrested by the Kaski district police for his prayer video of his saying coronavirus virus could be healed in the name of Jesus which was uploaded on YouTube on 22 February, a month earlier.
Acharya managed to pay bail amount of 5,000 rupees ordered by the district administration on 29 March but he was rearrested right away for his glossolalia, a common practice in Christian prayer in the same video.
After weeks of detention, Acharya was freed on bail of 500,000 rupees but rearrested for the second time from the court premises and was taken to Dolpa, a remotest north-western part of the country for another accusation of proselytizing and religious conversion. After going through multiple hardships, Acharya was bailed out on 30 June with bail amount 300,000 rupees.
In all these cases, Acharya was persecuted under sections 156 and 158 of the Nepalese Penal Code while Nepal’s constitution article 26.1 still guarantees fundamental rights to religious freedom to practice, protect, and adhere to one’s religious belief.
Being one of the popular preacher in Nepali Christian community, Acharya was able to get support from individuals and institutions, especially from the Nepal Christian Society (NCS) to manage his release. But it would have been out of the imaginary level if that was a case of a common faithful.
The situation wasn’t better in the past either while the country was an only Hindu nation in the world but Nepal’s new secularism has put religious freedom further on the verge.