Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nepal - Day #3 - Bhaktapur/Kathmandu

Day 3 began with a bread and jam and an omlette ( a worthy representation of a western breakfast). We then continued our orientation with Bal and learned about the treatment of women in Nepal. In short it's pretty awful.

Women are often forced to sleep in cow sheds when they are menstruating and are subject to a life of 'loving servitude' to their husbands. Marriages are arranged by the parents of the couple and the women's family is expected to pay the husband's family a 'dowry'. This dowry is essentially a wish-list of items that the husband (or husband's family) desires and demands.

Dowry's are generally fairly expensive items (cars, laptops, 100,000 rupees) which means that families (wanting to avoid financial stress) often hope for male children rather than females. I couldn't help wondering about the prevalence of abortions in Nepal; Bal assured me that it was uncommon, however given the information at hand it seems likely that home-abortions would occur. Despite my pro-choice position I think the choice to abort should be a least minimally rational and the procedure conducted to be safe and professional. The dowry system is archaic, dogmatic, and encourages greed.

A worse problem still is women trafficking. This involves a Nepalise man feigning interest in a woman in order to secure the families dowry before selling the woman to a brothel (most often in India). Because menstruation is seen as an 'impurity' young girls are in particularly high demand. Women, or more accurately children, are forced to satisfy 5 to 25 clients a day; some of the children being as young as 11.

After orientation it was lunch time and I decided that I would eat it the Nepalise way. It was quite enjoyable eating with my hand even though my lack of skill proved amusing to the locals. In Nepal it is only acceptable to eat with your right hand because your left hand should be used when visiting the toilet.

In the afternoon we visited the monkey temple just outside central Kathmandu. It's a Buddhist temple atop a large mountain with a lot of monkeys. . . I guess the name gives it away a bit. I picked up a few souvenirs and took plenty of photo's.

In the evening Guy and I went back to Sam's bar in Thamel (see photo ^^), but only for a few drinks this time.

As a sidenote we discovered today that my companion Guy's name means 'cow' in Nepalise. This fact provided Bal and I with much amusement.

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