From The Nepali Press
Women take over
Kantipur, 4 October
FROM ISSUE #217 (08 OCT 2004 - 14 OCT 2004) | TABLE OF CONTENTS
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The exodus of men-folk from the villages due to the insurgency has forced women in Doti to depart from tradition, even when it comes to performing the final rites after a person's death. Since there are no more young men left in the village, women are forced to carry dead bodies and cremate them-an activity that women have traditionally been strictly barred from carrying out. When an elderly man died recently, locals looked for young men to carry the dead body. But, since there were none, the women decided to do it themselves. And unlike in the past, when cremations used to take place at a river bank roughly six hours walk away, these days they are done closer to the village. Local priest Ramchandra Bhatta says the women are not strong enough to carry the dead bodies to the usual place for cremation, adding, "In normal circumstances, the cremation would never have taken place so near to the villages, but now we have no choice." Locals say all young men have fled because of the threats from the rebels and the security forces. Earlier, young men used to carry sick people to health posts in dokos, but nowadays women do the work. Health worker Hikmatsingh Chopda says there has been a drop in the number of people coming for treatment. Life has indeed become difficult in these once male-dominated villages. The only work women don't do yet is ploughing the field, but if the men stay away from the villages for much longer, women will be compelled to do this as well. By this time of the year, young men would normally be returning to their villages for Dasain. This year, hardly any of them have come back. The Maoists will forcibly recruit any young person they see, and even teenage boys have left.