ཡུམ། Tibetan Women's Reality

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Criticism of Gender Equality Article Proves the Problem


Recently posted in Phayul, The 7 Worst Excuses for Ignoring Women’s Rights, has received a certain amount of criticism, which was expected for an article intended to be provocative. The comments responding to the article are worth a look themselves, they are generally quite interesting for the light they shine on some of the critical attitudes toward gender equality that continue to persist in our community. Ironically, several of them underscore the extent of the problem. Although there are a number of separate arguments presented, and the presentation is confusing in places, I will attempt to respond here to a few of the issues the comments bring up:

 It is not acceptable to criticise Tibetan society with not enough reasons about women’s human right. Comparing to all othern nations, regions and communties, Tibetan women enjoy the highest women’s rights.  (Kalsang_Lama)

when people lived in West they tend to copycat Western sickness and this time another woman right or equality. Since sex sales in the west Kunsang talks about her sexual exploitation way back. She needs to describe in detail who knows it could be consensual sexual relation-no smoke without fire!!!!  (dorjdrum59)

-I hope people understand that this is not only about my problem; this is a community problem that was true in my village and it is true in India. I know what happened in my own experiences and I know the experiences of other women. For example, when I was a child there was a woman our village my mother’s age who had an alcoholic and abusive husband. I remember how much this woman wanted to get away from him but had nowhere to go and no way to make him leave. All she could do was wish for him to die soon. Women like her have no recourse to law or anywhere to go for protection, a different woman from my village with an abusive husband died suddenly and mysteriously, yet the husband was never even questioned about her death. I have only been back in India a short time and I have already met a woman here who had to flee over the mountains to escape her husband, holding her six-year old daughter by the hand with a five-month old boy on her back. That was the only way she could get away. In my own experience, I was raped in Tibet then abused several times again when I got to India. In one incident, my ex-boyfriend raped me after I left him.

I understand that we have a lot going on from issues with China, but I am disappointed that we just try to hide this kind of problem. You cannot hide the truth forever, it’s better that we deal with issues now and move forward towards positive improvements.

rape is always prevented in Buddhist culture and I understand normally it is very rare. However, as per my experience in the community, mostly man insist woman for the sex and they offer willingly. It is women’s nature to pretend to hate having sex but they indicate willingness to whom they like. (Patuk)

-It’s very sad that anyone makes an excuse this way. A person who thinks like this needs to learn more about sex and relationships. The first rule is that when a woman says “no” she means it.

It is easy to accuse your own community with ghost views injected by a non-Tibetan husband (khampaknife)

This person has no idea who is the enemy of Tibetan culture and who is the friend. A friend of Tibetan culture is the person who is trying to improve the community. We shouldn’t be too proud to learn anything from another culture if it would benefit our community. If we fool ourselves into thinking we are better than other cultures in every way then we will only harm ourselves by preventing improvement.

 These days it has become a fashion to raise gender-inequality issues irrespective whether there really does exists a situation worthy of attention. Both this piece and the earlier one( Reaching for the Sky ) suffer in trying to make a case by resorting to nitpicking. Nitpicking, I repeat. (Assanga)

-It’s hard to understand how sexual violence could be called nitpicking. Gender inequality and sexual violence damage not only individuals but the whole community, especially because the traumas of women affect their children. Unless we focus on bringing up Tibetan children in healthy environments we can’t expect to have a positive future. Gender issues affect real everyday life, if we Tibetans want to called gender issues “nitpicking” and ignore them, then who is going to solve our problems for us?

Now what’s really surprising to me is that despite all the progress made in the West in the past say 50 plus years –with women no longer just the family servant but partner as family bread winner you still see and hear of even more outrageous crimes. It was quite a reverse culture shock to hear and read about the unimaginable ‘incestuous’ acts against one’s own blood. It seemed all made up for the tabloid ratings but now sadly I have come to grips with the fact that such things seem to be the part of life in this modern progressive world. (Crux12)

-What was shocking about the recent incident in Mungod Settlement wasn’t only that two Tibetan men attempted to rape a five-year old girl, it was that community leaders were able to convince the father not to pursue charges. The community leaders were more worried about revealing an embarrassing truth than in justice or protecting other girls the two men might abuse in the future. As this incident proves, the reason we hear about terrible crimes occurring in the West and not in our own community isn’t because these types of crimes are unique to the West, it’s because we hide them.



  1. tseyang says:

    I agree with your last statement…..

  2. khampacat says:

    donno what’s your issue is.

  3. Ttshomomo says:

    Is it the case that you are from near Kumbum, in Huangzhong County in Qinghai Province? Isn’t this an overwhelming Han Chinese area? Did you grow up speaking Chinese or Tibetan? How honest is it to say you are from “Tibet” if you are from a predominantly Han Chinese area and your first language is Tibetan? There is nothing wrong with the latter, but shouldn’t you be honest about your language background and your cultural background? How well do you read Tibetan? Many monks and nuns who are at nunneries and monasteries do not read Tibetan, nor are they able to speak Tibetan other than recite chants that they do not understand. I realize that it is in your interest to represent yourself as “from Tibet” but on what basis do you make that claim? There are many Tibetans in the West who have figured out what Westerners want to hear and know if they provide them with these narratives, then they (the Tibetans) will have a more supportive situation in which to live. It would be great if you would address these issues.

    • kunsangdolma says:

      What a strange comment. I am from the same area as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and we are both Tibetan. Do suspect him too?

      In fact, yes, there are Chinese in the area, as well as Uighers, but what does that have to do with anything? Are Tibetans born in India not Tibetan because people around them speak Hindi? Would you also say New York City is not part of America because some people don’t speak English?

      There’s a book I mentioned in another post that I’d like to recommend again here: Pauline MacDonald’s Dharamsala Days Dharamsala Nights. When I first came to India from Tibet, I soon learned that my native Amdo dialect was held in contempt by some established Tibetans born in India. MacDonald’s book is the first I know of that addresses discrimination against new refugees from Kham and Amdo. You might want to read her book to better understand the complexity of Tibetan identity in exile.

      To be honest, this comment is so bizarre, I have to wonder if there is something else behind it. Do you have some reason for attacking my Tibetan identity?

      • This person commenting with different names, threatening Kunsang Dolma and addressing so many *stupid* questions to her, must be probably suffering some serious illness. We know Kunsang Dolma really well and so we cannot do anything but keep on supporting her and ignoring (and feel compassion as well) the haters 🙂
        Haters, you can address those silly questions to my pussy as well…

      • Dorjha says:

        There are no “Uighers” in the place you claim to be from, although there are many Hui. This make me wonder why you would say that. A local person never makes such mistake.

  4. Lhakyi says:

    While there are Muslims (Hui and Sala) in the Kumbum area, there are very few if any Uygur. The Dalai Lama is from an area that, today, has been largely Sinicized, but at a very early age went to Lhasa until he he left for India. However, the above comment isn’t about the DL, it is about you. I notice that you do not respond to the questions asked by the writer above. Why is that? How convenient to label the comment ‘bizarre’ and ‘an attack on your Tibetan identity’ and therefore not answering.

    In what county in Qinghai were you born?

    Is the area where you were born an an overwhelming Han Chinese area?

    Did you grow up speaking Chinese or Tibetan?

    How honest is it to say you are from “Tibet” if you are from a predominantly Han Chinese area and your first language is Chinese?

    How well do you read and write Tibetan?

    Do your parents speak Tibetan?

    Do your parents speak Chinese better than Tibetan?

    Why did you not answer Ttshomomo’s questions?

    You obviously have a lot invested in this ‘Tibetan identity’ – do you feel honest answers to these questions might undermine what you perceive to be ‘Tibetan identity’?

    The sooner you reply to these questions, the better. It seems you are hiding something which, as you so often advocate in your writings, is no good.

  5. kunsangdolma says:

    I am embarrassed that Tibetans would stoop to using baseless, and bizarre, personal attacks like yours if don’t agree with something I have to say. This is really shameful. Do I need to to somehow prove my heritage to you? No, not really. If you don’t like it, you are free to leave this website at any time.

  6. Takboom says:

    I just found this blog. I don’t know a lot about Qinghai, but I’m really curious why you don’t answer the questions that have been raise? I mean, what is baseless about the questions? Maybe those who have asked these questions really want to knowing? Now, after reading the questions, and your angry response (very close to an attack), I wonder what you think “Tibet” and “Tibetan” are? Soon or later you will be interviewed by media and they will ask these, or similar question. It seems you may be hiding something or are insecure bout something. I don’t see the people above, for example, accusing you of not being Tibetan. Also, just out of curiosity, do you write these replies yourself or you have assistance? I hope you don’t call me ‘baseless’ and ‘shameless’ for asking such question. Honesty always is good thing, unless you really hiding something.

  7. Mrs. Salma Wanger says:

    I was in Qinghai some years ago. My guess is that the Kunsang Dolma probably doesn’t speak Tibetan. She’s too young. She may have learned some Tibetan in India. My advice to you, Ms. Kunsang Dolma, is to be very forthright about your past. This is how you advertise your book and your past – that you are completely honest. I imagine that most of your ancestry could be Tibetan. There’s nothing wrong with growing up in a very Han-influenced village and speaking Chinese as your mother language and then learning Tibetan as a second language. You can still claim Tibetan identity because that is what you want and have reasons for it. Anyways, I, too, lend my voice to these requests asking that you provide more info about yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that, is there? I’m also worried that you seem so upset in replying to these requests for information. This tendency to equivocate and not confront these issues directly seems to me to be exactly what you are campaigning against; a lack of willingness to be open and above board about the past.

  8. Gongar says:

    Yeah, Ms. Wagner, me, too. Why not me Kusang Dolma tell the truth about her past

  9. Pauline MacDonald says:

    Your questions are answered in her book: it’s an autobiography. Given that Kunsang Dolma’s life story is well-known, you look silly and/or mentally ill.

  10. Myra says:

    Wow! Just a simple request for information and the author gets impolite and resorts to name-calling and now Ms. MacDonald is also name-calling. What is motivating this negativity? Unfortunately, this is sadly reflective of exile Tibetans and why they lose supporters. It would be so much easier to simply say you are not going to answer the questions and not explain why or, better yet, answer. I mean, what’s the big deal? And why so much negativity? Why is it wrong, bizarre, silly, mentally ill and so on and so forth to want to know the answers to these questions before forking out the cost of the book, which isn’t cheap? What’s wrong, for example, to say that “I grew up in a thoroughly Sinicized village and never studied Tibetan until I got to India and then sought fame because the West has money and is interested in Tibetans, or whatever the truth may be?

  11. Pauline MacDonald says:

    No doubt for some reason you can’t order her book from a library. It’s funny how people who attack writers about their work can never seem to find a way to read it, yet have countless hours to devote to grilling for answers contained in said document 🙂 So you want a free book or an essay on Kunsang Dolma’s life? Letters of reference from people in Tibet as to her linguistic skills and education in Tibetan there? What do you want exactly?

  12. And what exactly is reasonable or sane about rudely demanding answers to almost a dozen questions?

  13. E Brower says:

    Dear Ms. Kunsang Dolma, You are doing some important stuff by calling attention to violence against women and being supportive of gay people. These are important undertakings and I hope you continue. This is what makes you noteworthy. That said, the questions asked above are not rude, bizarre, etc. and whoever(s) is/are asking the questions could be mollified by just providing the answers. Whatever the answers are, they don’t detract from the value of what you are doing.

    Meanwhile, having people such as Ms. MacDonald impolitely attacking what she imagines to be unacceptable is not in your best interest. You want people to buy your book. OK. Then you are a public personality. Why not reply neutrally to questions you are asked about your background?


    Elina Brower

  14. Why not send her a private message or post the question to her Facebook wall rather than posting questions entirely unrelated to the article, which is about the serious issue of gender inequality?

  15. Thinlay says:

    I don’t want to get involved in silly arguments but the blind or comments with special purpose invite one. All the silly comments came one person for sure with different names. Some agents paid by CCP have been doing this for a long time. This is nothing surprising. Your argument is baseless but I understand that you want to claim that the part of Tibet where Kunsung Dolma was born is China. I will answer your silly questions. I am also from that PART of Tibet and I know Kunsung Dolma. We went to school together. We grew up speaking Tibetan and the generation of our parents saw Chinese as ruthless alians let alone speaking their language.

  16. Jinba says:

    So this is how it usually goes. Questions get ask, name-calls and other nasty things (“address those silly questions to my pussy as well…”) ensues, CCP labels follows, more name calls…. No wonder the world is fed up with exile communities. Think about it: the CCP would support KD, since she, according to some traditionalists, wants to weaken the Tibetan community, therefore they attack her naysayers because it’s better to have her. So, given this logic, Thinlay is a CCP plant. Silly, silly. Typical exile charge and counter-charge and more nasty charges and who knows who writing how many message. I wonder why KD hasn’t made her past clearer? All this silliness shows why the exile community is rapid irrelevant to all except the exiles. The exiles have no say in the future of Tibet – that’s for people inside China, or however you want to call areas where great majority Tibetans live. Carry on, carry on. These dramas gave people things to do everyday. Who on this side? Who on that side? Who supports me? Who attacking who? Who can I get to do…. And, finally, who cares and what difference does it make? Other than whoever you wish to represent yourself to as whatever you think will advantage you in your self-fulfilling delusion. It all quite wonderful! Please write more everybod. We are in Wonderland and you are Alice.

  17. Drolma says:

    Jinba–write more! I loves it! Cannot wait to reading your biography.

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