The misogyny chain runs primarily based on all the teachings that have been instilled in us since our childhood. It's time to break free of these doctrines and realise that a woman being controlled for her appearance, bodily functions and sexuality is not okay in any society

Misogyny, an ingrained prejudice against women or girls, can be witnessed and experienced in almost every aspect of our society. Be it a cultural event honouring our traditions or an academic environment that is supposed to guide us into a brighter future, instances of casual and deep-rooted misogyny have been normalised to the extent that many people don't even bother asking questions about it.

For many of us, this normalisation towards misogyny begins at home and is further solidified in the schools where moral and gender policing is welcomed with warm arms under the guise of discipline.

The dress policies in schools are a ruse hiding behind the deeply fixed patriarchal misbeliefs in Nepal.

The picture of an ideal female student is submissive to all of the passive sexism, middle parts her oiled hair, and wears maxi-like skirts long enough to cover her knees and white camisole tops to hide the outlines of her malicious bra.

Schools go to extreme lengths to check if girls wear leggings or not by lifting their skirts, and anyone who doesn't conform to such codes is publicly called out for being indecent or worse, distracting the boys.

What's even sadder is that it is often the female teachers who try to teach girls how to look more decent and less promiscuous.

The endless parade of rules describing a female student's discipline ends up following her throughout her adult life.

Not only is it instilled in girls that their outfit describes the level of their decency, but they are also subtly taught to be embarrassed about their sexuality and reproductive health.

Girls are often separated, taken to a different room, and taught about menstruation as if it's a taboo to talk about in front of the boys.

Often chapters regarding menstruation are dismissed.

Sex education classes are merely awkward and hesitant lessons full of giggles and very little actual practical knowledge.

Asking for a sanitary pad in Nepal gets you a carefully wrapped packet like a gift, which is further put in a coloured polythene bag. It is almost as if these layers of packaging were created to hide the mandatory shame of being on your periods.

Unfortunately, this embarrassment that is supposed to come with periods follows many of us to the temples and kitchens of our own home, where we are banned for the four days that we bleed.

Now many "open-minded" people try to justify this monthly ban as an excuse for a girl on her period to rest, but this excuse is not strong enough to hide the tradition of distancing women from the society based on their bodily functions.

What's even more tragic is we often see other women strictly implementing these rules that were developed to establish a higher ground by the patriarchy.

While social media has helped us know more about people who are speaking out against such traditions, some people are also exploiting the social media to spread misogynistic ideas about women.

On October 16 last year, Nepal police arrested a group leader, 19, of the Facebook group "Rapist Association" on grounds of encouraging rape, bashing women and posting abusive content through the group on social media.

The fact that young boys feel confident enough to post such toxicities against women publicly proves how ignorant and incompetent we have been as a society in promoting equal respect for women.

What more can we expect from a society that teaches children from such a young age that it is okay to judge someone's character based on the length of their skirt? Or that the male gaze will be distracted if a bra strap is showing, and it is solely a woman's fault if the boys decide to "react" to it? Statistics from the National Women Commission demonstrate how despite daily abuse, women feel trapped in their marriage and put up with their partner either for the sake of their kids, social status and traditional norms.

We might not know cases like these personally, but each one of us has heard of such cases where a woman, despite the abuse and oppression from her partner, tries to make it work because compromise, albeit the basic human right violation, is something women have been taught since childhood.

These do not merely happen within the confines of the marital contract.

Even in an average Nepali family, physical and verbal violence against women at the hands of the "head of the family" has been normalised with the excuse as weak as "we are just looking out for them and don't want them to soil the family name".

The very notion that a family's dignity is connected to the lifestyle of a woman shows how women are moulded to behave in the way as dictated by our patriarchal traditions.

Our schools' simple overlooked rules and internalised shame regarding one's sexuality and reproductive health become a part of society's venomous perspective that places blame on a rape victim's clothes and lifestyle instead of on the rapist. They manifest to make a mother ask her daughter to dress "decently" in front of the male relatives instead of questioning the intentions of the said relatives.

When asked why it is that the woman in the scenario has to compromise, the answer is often the same: "It is what it is." But it shouldn't be what it is; little girls shouldn't feel insecure to dress as they please because another person cannot follow the basic moral code that makes us human.

It shouldn't be normal for female students to be taught from such a young age that it is them who need to put more effort into their appearance to be treated decently.

The misogyny chain runs primarily based on all these teachings that have been instilled in us since our childhood.

It's time to break free of these doctrines and realise that a woman being controlled for her appearance, bodily functions and sexuality is not okay in any society.

I realise we have come a long way, fighting for our rights, but we must not stop here. We must de-normalise what's normal. We must speak up.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 27, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.