ཡུམ། Tibetan Women's Reality

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Q&A: Why do we hide harassment and abuse?

(photo credit Limbic)

(photo credit Limbic)

Q: I want to ask you one thing as i am accepting that sexual harassment or physical abuse happened in our society but why ourpeople used to hide such incidents often. For example:” A recent alleged rape of a Tibetan minor in the Mundgod Tibetan settlement”. While, their first step was to make case silent or disclosed with anyone instead of complaint over police or settlement authority. so, what you think; is this problem of our society structure or lacking behind the modern education?

A: I believe one reason people keep quiet is that families feel embarrassed if everyone knows something happened to their daughter. There is also a problem because many Tibetans don’t think abuse is really that bad. When husbands basically force their wives to have sex or teenage girls are raped, it’s almost considered normal, maybe not great, but not exactly terrible either. For example, after my book came out, one man I know told me it made him thank about times in his experience when men were together and someone said something like, “If a woman doesn’t want to give you sex, choke her like this and she will do it.” Until he really thought about it, he didn’t appreciate how bad that is. In exile, there is a lot of reluctance to let foreigners see anything bad about Tibet. That is probably the reason why they tried to cover up the Mungod situation at first. Some important people would rather protect our reputation than Tibetan women.

The solution is going to have to come from regular people, from ordinary conversations and people taking a moment to think about what is going on. We have to stop blaming women when they are victims of abuse and hold the perpetrators accountable. I don’t know that education makes much difference. There are educated Tibetans, if education was the solution we would be seeing them be the first ones to stand up and say something, but that hasn’t happened. It seems that the ones with education are sometimes the last to address problems such as abuse.

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