Nepal | August 05, 2020

Trend of political violence: Women continue to suffer

Hisila Yami
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It is interesting to note that when Obama won Presidential election the country was not so divided although he was black but he was male

While newspapers in Nepal buzzed with news of domestic violence amidst 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence that started from 25 November to 10 December there were hardly articles written on Political violence of women.

Maybe having a woman as President, a woman as Speaker and a woman as Chief Justice in Nepal might have overshadowed political violence of women.

But let us not forget that the collective political violence was already committed when the second Constituent Assembly did not allow formation of woman’s Caucus.

If one is to see the trend then we increasingly see our woman President Bidhya Bhandari being invited to more and more religious ceremonies rather than more important state functions. Even in one of the religious functions she was humiliated reminding her that she is a widow first before she is a President of Nepal.

Local Madhesi youth clubs carried out cleansing at Janaki temple following her visit there on the occasion of the Ram Janaki Vivah Mahotsava pointing out that offering of worship there by a widow was considered unholy.

Similarly the Speaker Onsari Gharti is being taunted as a person not speaking her own mind but that of her powerful husband Barshaman Pun by KP Oli, the president of opposition party UML.

Luckily for Sushila Karki, the Chief Justice her husband Durga Subedi, left politics long back so she is spared from being compared with her husband.

Having achieved high-ranking political posts for women in Nepal for the first time in Nepal, women here were excited when Hillary Clinton won vote from her Democratic Party to contest for President in America.

They eagerly waited for the result of Presidential election so as to share the joy of having woman President in America too. But they were disappointed when she lost the election.

America is still an empire. Thus having a woman President would have added the image of inclusion to the empire. It is to be noted that number of women as President or Prime Minister or as Chancellor or as Minister have been increasing in the other parts of the world.

However not having a woman President in USA ever since 1789 has put a question mark on their liberal image.

It is in this background that powerful woman’s candidacy such as Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for the post of President had long been awaited by women in general and feminists in particular around the world. She had all the ingredients needed for winning the election.

The best bet for her was the opposite candidate from the Republican Party: naïve, apolitical, rash and often not sophisticated opponent Donald Trump as Presidential candidate from the Republican side.

The poor and often embarrassing performance by Trump had led many Republicans including some of the powerful Republican politicians to support her. All the major media were on her side.

With such favorable conditions she lost the election. Once again America has disappointed women by showing that it is still the bastion of masculinity.

What made the loss most hurtful was that the rude, raw ruse used by Trump to downgrade such a qualified woman candidate paid off! He was a typical misogynist, judging woman as an appendix of man, lecherously seeing women by her body, biology and not brain, taking her as commodity.

His disdain for the minority community and the disabled further made him offensively intolerant.

It is thus important to analyze why she lost the election. It is important to note that when she gave candidacy for President against Barrak Obama within Democratic Party in 2008, it is said that party members were commenting: it was better to vote a black man than a woman.

And the result proved it. And it has once more proved how strong anti-woman USA is when she again lost in 2016 Presidential election despite Obama appealing to the colored population to vote for her. It is believed not many came to vote in 2016 as many came for voting Barack Obama in the year 2008.

Just as in 2008 silent majority of blacks came to vote for Obama this time it was silent majority white that came to vote for Trump. But for a woman there were neither silent majority blacks nor silent majority whites that came in to support her.

It is interesting to note that when Obama won Presidential election the country was not so divided although he was black but he was male. However when Hillary Clinton contested for the Presidential election despite being a white she became the focus of controversy because she was a female. Today the country is more divided than at any time.

It was found that 42% of women voted for Trump. They were found saying ‘of course we would like to see a woman president but not of her kind’.

The more Clinton fought against Trump’s sexism the more she appeared feminist and the more whites including white women started moving away from her. The more she talked on inclusive issues the more she became isolated from both white women and men.

Women against women in perpetuating political violence were seen in Presidential election in 2016. One wondered how could Keyanne Conway, a woman herself, the chief campaigner of Trump stand to see Trump making such derogatory remarks on women?

As more and more women in the world are entering politics they are keenly watching whether the world’s richest and strongest countries like America and China will be able to elect woman as their President.

A version of this article appears in print on December 14, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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