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"Let It Be A Son": How Nepal Culture Pushes Women To Abort Girls

In a culture that can see girls as a burden, many women opt to abort their female fetuses — even though it's illegal.

SARLAHI, NEPAL — In the fourth month of her pregnancy, Indu found out she was carrying a girl. That night, she couldn’t sleep and kept crying. She chose to have an abortion, even though it’s illegal in Nepal to terminate a pregnancy after 12 weeks. If she were to have a seventh child, it needed to be a boy.

The desire to have a son is so strong in some parts of Nepal that it leads women like Indu to secretly terminate their pregnancies after finding out the sex of the fetus – either in a close-by town, or across the border in neighboring India. The decision is often one of economic necessity. Sons, especially in more rural regions, are considered financial assets who can contribute to a struggling family. But the illicit abortions, sometimes done in dangerous circumstances, often jeopardize the life of the woman. They’re also skewing the ratio of newborns, threatening to affect future population growth.

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No Less Than Monks? Buddhist Nuns Seek Gender Equality

The Buddha's "Eight Heavy Rules" included a stipulation that placed Buddhist nuns under the supervision of monks, which have undermined women’s status in the ancient religion.

In recent years, many Buddhist nuns have taken on leadership roles that require either ordination status or academic degrees, all of which was quite unheard of in Buddhist monastic traditions in the past. However, this change has also met with much resistance, as traditionally Buddhism has allowed only men to serve in these roles.

The early Pali Vinaya texts in the Buddhist canon recount how Buddha thrice rejected the request of his foster mother, Mahaprajapati, to be ordained, before his disciple, Ananda, persuaded him to accept women into the monastic body.

Ananda had to make two arguments for his case: an emotional one – that Mahaprajapati had been kind to the Buddha and raised him – and a logical one – that women, too, had the potential to become enlightened.

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Omicron And Winter Olympics, Duterte Backs Out, NFT Typo

👋 Hallo!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Omicron now looms over the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, Philippine strongman Duterte unexpectedly quits his Senate race, and the NFT world witnesses a very costly slip of the keyboard. In French economic daily Les Echos, Adrien Lelièvre wonders whether the jig is up for the “gig economy.”


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Ancient Menstrual Quarantines Still Oppress Women In Nepal

Last year, the Nepalese government outlawed the chhaupadi tradition that bans certain activities on menstruating women. But little has changed.

KATHMANDU — When Binita had her first period, she knew what she had to do. Growing up in the mountainous district of Gorkha in central Nepal, she had observed how her mother and every other female family member changed their behavior when they had their period: They slept in different rooms, were not allowed to touch water, food or male family members, couldn't enter the kitchen and couldn't take part in religious ceremonies.

Much has changed in Binita's life since her teenage years. She's now 37 years old, married with two teenage sons and lives in an apartment on the outskirts of the capital, Kathmandu.

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Bertrand Hauger

Light My Pyre

My trip to Nepal was definitely one of the most dépaysants, as we say here in France. This open-air cremation in front of Kathmandu"s famous Pashupatinath Temple was certainly not a sight a Western traveler like me is used to seeing.


Burning Faith

The villages and landscapes, the colors and fauna, old people and young — in my experience, few countries can rival Nepal as a photographic subject. Here is one flickering moment of prayer passing at a Buddhist temple in Kathmandu.

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Cheeky Shiva

There are Hindu deities everywhere you look along the streets of the Nepalese capital. Here, wood-carved figures of Shiva and Parvati keep an eye on Kathmandu's Durbar Square. Notice Shiva's strategically placed left hand.

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Life By The Mountain

About a hundred kilometers south of the Himalaya mountain range, the village of Chobhar is a far cry from the country's bustling and polluted capital, Kathmandu.

Rajan Parajuli

Can Nepal's War Victims Ever Get Justice?

A truth and reconciliation commission is investigating crimes committed during Nepal's decade-long internal conflict (1996-2006) between state security forces and Maoist rebels.

KATHMANDU — Deepak Hamal's father was abducted by Maoist rebels one evening in 2004 when he was at home having dinner with his wife. His body was found the next day near a walking trail in their village.

Hamal was getting his master's degree in the capital city of Kathmandu at the time. "When I got home, the whole village had gathered there. But everyone was afraid to touch the body because there were a few improvised grenades nearby," Hamal, now 36, says.

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Caroline Christinaz

Home Base, A Village Of Sherpas Deep In The Himalayas

THAME — A small man appears behind us. "Namaste," he murmurs in a quiet voice. He calls himself "Ang Tshering Sherpa," before asking, "Do you want some tea?" His house was destroyed by an earthquake last year, and was just renovated, but he still lives with his daughter next door.

At 3,820 meters, the gray sky serves as the canvas for for the lethargic flight paths of crows. A few hours walk from Namche Baazar, the traditional home village for mountain guides, Thame is maintained to perfection: well-cut thick green grass, shingled wales encircle freshly renovated houses, crystal clear creak water. Even the yaks have a certain shine.

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Praying Primate

Not only is the Swayambhunath shrine near Kathmandu fascinating, it's also swarming with monkeys — some more pious than others.


Carrying The Water

In the cradle of the Himalayas, these Nepalese kids were using all kinds of weirdly shaped pots, vases and buckets to bring water back to the village, from the only source available to the community.

Green Or Gone
Shuriah Niazi

Climate Change, Earthquake Spell Double Trouble For Nepalese Farmers

NAUBISE — In the village of Naubise, about 90-minute drive from the capital Kathmandu, farmer Nirbhaya Sapkota is experimenting with crop rotation, mixed cropping and even intercropping — anything to maintain soil fertility and moisture.

Sapkota, 45, and others this area are contending first-hand with the effects of climate change, which is particularly hard-hitting in Nepal because of its high poverty rates and low adaptive capacity. The major earthquake that struck in April has complicated matters even more.

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Polychrome Religion

Children were playing next to a man painting a wood panel for one of the countless Hindu festivals in Kathmandu, Nepal.