WOW | WOW Report

#metoo

Compiled by: Aakriti Maya Aryal

One of our goals at WOW magazine is to highlight the experiences that women share, to start important conversations and empower readers. In the world of women, the #metoo movement in all of its global iterations is at the crux of every conversation. And it is time for us to take an active part in the dialogue. In October WOW announced a platform for many to share their #metoo stories. However, it was an extremely difficult process to obtain these. This reflected how difficult it is in our society to share our stories, to speak out without the fear of being labeled or judged and to take real action against perpetrators. Below are some stories collected on condition of anonymity. We thank those who have chosen to share their experience irrespective of the gravity or consequences and respect their concern for privacy. We believe that every little step we take is a step forward.

The #MeToo movement as it was originally intended by its founders is supposed to serve as a community of individuals with the shared experience of sexual assault or harassment. The idea behind the movement is that by sharing personal stories of abuse, survivors are able to support one another and move further in their personal healing process. By sharing stories, survivors are able to reclaim their narrative, rejecting the “helpless victim” trope and feeling empowered by the fact that they are not alone. The movement understands that these experiences of harassment transcend identity politics, leaving those of all genders, race, age and socioeconomic status vulnerable to sexual or gender-based exploitation. By sharing stories of abuse in and around Kathmandu, we hope to bring the conversation to you. It is only by sharing stories that we can mould our culture into one that is conscious of the ways the most marginalised members of our community are vulnerable to sexual exploitation. The first step to an evolving society is to recognise that we have a problem.

CASE 1

“My cousins and I had a small get together around five years ago. we were drinking and I was pretty knocked out. I was at the point where I was vomiting, so I got to be the only one that slept in the room with the attached bathroom while everyone else was sleeping in the other room. This cousin whose house we were in, came to in to ask if I was okay and offered to give me a head massage. He was my cousin, so I thought I had absolutely nothing to worry about. After a little while, I literally felt him slipping his hand inside my shirt but I was in this state of lucid sleep and didn’t feel like I could do anything. I remember fidgeting a little, but that is all. When he tried to kiss me, I remember really struggling against the weight of his body. It was at that moment that one of my bhaujus came in to check on me and took me to the other room. I don’t know if she took me away because she realised what was going on or if it was just an accident.

As recalled by 26 year old student from Kathmandu

CASE 2

When I had finished my A-levels, a large group of friends and classmates went on a trip to Pokhara. We had booked a bunch of rooms in a hotel near lakeside and at night, after we hit a few bars and clubs, we were gathered around the hotel balcony just talking and sitting around. My best friend was hanging out with this guy that I knew she was not very fond of from our conversations about him before. She was very drunk at that point and he seemed to be taking care of her so I didn’t think that much of it. Awhile later when I looked back to check on her, I saw that both she and the guy weren’t there and I started to get worried. I went to check our room and she wasn’t there, nor was she in our friend’s room. I then went to check out his room and the door was locked. I kept banging on the door and shouting at them to open up until he finally did. He looked really pissed off. She was completely passed out and lying on the bed. The guy left the room before I could say anything. I took her to my room and confronted the guy about what happened inside but he denied doing anything wrong and my friend doesn’t remember anything that happened. When I told my close friends about the incident, they told me not to worry about it because they believed that nothing had happened. But I was the one that saw the look on the guy’s face, and I am so terrified of what may have happened in the room that night.

As recalled by 23 year old banker from Kathmandu.

CASE 3

I was in grade 12 and had this math teacher that always made me feel a little uncomfortable. This feeling was shared by a lot of the other girls that were in his class and even boys noticed that when he taught, he would only make eye contact with a few of the girls. He used to have this smile on his face when I spoke to him and I always felt very weird by the way that he looked at me. I used to get teased by my friends that I didn’t even have to do the homework because there was no way he would take points off as I was his favourite student. I laughed along with them, even though I felt confused as I was a very average math student. One time when I closed the locker door, I found him right next to me and was taken by surprise. I was about to walk away when he said, “I wish my wife was more like you.”

As recalled by a 19 year old student based in Russia .

CASE 4

I was being interviewed for my first job and I was supposed to meet my future boss in a coffee shop. I arrived and was very nervous about it and this was my first formal interview. I was decently dressed, wearing slacks and a blouse and had my hair tied up. As I went into the coffee shop, I saw that there was the interviewer – a man – and another woman next to him. She looked like his secretary or assistant but not quite. He started by looking at my resume and asking me questions. Then he started asking me personal questions like who I was living with, whether or not I had a boyfriend and what I liked to do in my free time. He told me that I could be a good candidate for the job if I agreed to being guided by his assistant. I knew then that there was no way I would accept that job because I did not know when the requirements would start becoming “favours”.

As recalled by 29 years old social worker from Patan.

CASE 5

I was only 12 years old when my mom passed away and was living for awhile at my aunt’s house with her and her husband. I remember liking the couple. They were always very nice to me. But sometimes, when we were home alone I remember my uncle used to ask me to give him a massage on his head and shoulders while facing towards him. I didn’t think anything of it then. He was family and I would gladly give him a massage but I remember that he would put his hands on my waist and feel my body. He felt me up and down. As I grew older, he started to make remarks about my body and its changes. I never knew what to do, so I just let it happen and kept it to myself.

As recalled by 26 year old branding consultant based in Lalitpur.

CASE 6

My father and sister had gone grocery shopping and I was home alone in my room. Blasting music, dancing, playing video games doing whatever a 15-year-old girl does. The only other person in the house was our cook. I heard knocking at the door and for some reason, I had a really bad feeling about it. I opened the door just a little bit, holding it half shut with my body weight. The cook said he had come to check on me. I told him that I was fine and he started to talk about how I used to “play” with him when I was younger and asked if I wanted to be carried by him. I distinctly remember being very thankful that I hadn’t opened the door all the way that day. Who knows what could have happened?

As recalled by a 26 year old writer from Lalitpur.

CASE 7

I was in grade five and my absolute favourite subject was General Knowledge. I always aced the tests, and it was the one class that I looked forward to. When I used to study for the class with my teacher, he always sat a little too close to me and whispered into my ear when he spoke, his mouth only a few inches away from me. Soon he started pulling me on his lap, kissing my cheeks and giving lingering touches when I did well on my assignments. I remember feeling very uncomfortable about it but I didn’t really know why. What I do know is that to this day I hate it when people whisper into my ear or bring their face too close to mine. It gives me the same shivering feeling of discomfort from all those years ago.

As recalled by a 22 year old student from Pokhara.