Role of Women in Tibet Research Paper

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The film Women of Tibet endeavors to give light on the probable happenings when in case two forces, the divine feminine and the sacred masculine commences to work together in a bid to create a more peaceful world.

Helga Huebach ('Ladies of the Tibetan Empire') argues that males in the 7-9th century used high profiled women as a means of establishing their political stability by their matrimonial alliances.Before 1959 and in the contemporary Tibet, most of the oracles were undoubtedly women. The research conducted by Hildergad Diemberge, (Female oracles in the modern Tibet) critically illustrates how political manipulation has given rise to the coming up of traditions to a great extent that contemporary oracles have influence as not only healers but political advisors. This however depends on the degree to which they are acknowledged by the community. (Ellen Bangsbo, Copenhagen) from tradition, Tibetan women enjoyed much moresocial status than other women in the other societies. Besides, they played active roles in family affairs and also societal affairs.

Immediately the Chinese military forces occupied Tibet, the women suffered prejudice, they were oppressed as te others were severely manipulated. Tibet women have greatly suffered in the areas of education, health sectors and also employment.

Tibetan women portrayed as great leaders

Tibetan women have in the past illustrated to themselves that they are capable of being administrators and courageous warriors. Miu Gyalmo Palchen Tso took over from her ailing husband governing Amdo province with great and amazing energy. She was a prominent warrior and an avid administrator. Similarly Jago Tsewang Dolma became an influential and prominent woman and a great administrator in the Derge, Kham courts. Khangsar Yangchen Dolma became a wise warrior and a great chief of Karze region in Kham, which lies in the Eastern Tibet. Ngarong Chime Dolma was also a powerful and coward officer who without being accompanied by another person moved with her soldiers into battlegrounds, coming from these battlefields with enormous success. The Chinese forces however, captured her later and killed her.

Tibetan as agriculturalists and traders

Prior to 1949, Tibetans engaged in agriculture as others engaged in animal husbandry and trade. Both men and women took part in all these three activities. Women participated enormously in both in agricultural pursuits and pastoral pursuits. Besides, they participated in trading activities, where they held the managerial posts and hence participated in decision-making. There was specification of labor based on gender lines. A woman who contributed to the household items were respected. Due to the tendency of extensive social and economic equality in the society, there was no distinguishable division between the forms of work which were done by men and women. In fact, flexibility was evident and the division and specification of labor was viewed as beneficial instead of being viewed as exploitative.

Women portrayed as having the freedom and right to marry

A critical look at the patterns of marriage and the organization of the household can also give as an insight into the role of women. Marriage was monogamous, polyandrous or polygamous. People were allowed to remarry. At the same time, they had the ample opportunity to divorce.

Polygamy was common the same way polyandry was. However, both were not widespread. In some regions and places, they were acceptable to maintain not only the family but also the social networks and to bring together estates, without interfering with the rights to which both men and women were used. Arranged and planned marriages were the order of the day but only the daughter, once the marriage took place, was to remain and continue staying with her family. Her new husband would join her family. Once the head of the household lost his life, it was the daughter, and not her husband, who would take charge of the estates of the family. Both men and women were free to remain unmarried or single.

Women portrayed as being Buddhists

. Buddhism also played a great and significant role in the daily lives of Tibetan women. Despite the fact that the number of monks is far more than the number of nuns, having the opportunity of becoming a nun gave an alternative and positive role for women in society. Women were to choose whether to become a nun or not to. Indeed it was a matter of choice. Before 1959, there were approximately 270 nunneries with over 15,600 nuns allover Tibet. Quit a number of nuns lived in small groups in retreat communities or hermitages.

The Chinese authorities have on a number of occasions tried to view and portray the traditional Tibetan society negatively negative light to legitimize their "liberation of a nation which endured in backwardness even in this modern age." It is a fact that in the past Tibetan women did not feature prominently in the political and administrative aspects of Tibetan history. However, a number of great nations of today went through the same periods of feudalism, slavery, casteism and other evils. At no point of history were the Tibetan women subjected to foot-binding, veiling, dowry or concubine age. It is not fair to compare the status of Tibetan women in the past to that of present under Chinese occupation. It is more justified to compare Tibetan women in Tibet with their counterparts in exile. The women in Tibet enjoy none of the human rights and freedom that are taken for granted in exile.

Women portrayed as being family property

The old law of Tibet also gave a low status for women both in marriages and families: they were ranked on the same level like the domestic animals and besides, they were grouped as being part of the property of the family. They could be given as presents or gifts. The law that stipulated the handling of the relatives of criminals said that for a criminal who had no children, "his wife shall be given to his father, or to his brother or other close male relatives if he had no father," or "be given, together with half of his domestic animals and other family property, to one of his close male relatives." When a man was rescued by someone from under a yak, he was to give his daughter to the person who saved him. In case he did not have a daughter, he was to give his sister or 200 tales of silver in case he did not have a daughter or a sister .According to the law, even noble women could also be presented as gifts though at a very high value.Women suffered not only in body but also in soul. They were forced to give birth in the sheep pens. infant mortality rate was so high, approximately 430 per thousand. The Gelukpa Sect made marriage illegal for its monks. because huge number of men went to the monasteries as monks and hence did not participate in population production, women shouldered a greater part of social duties. Women were the key source of taxes and performed most of the chores in and out of the house. Given the fact that many men became monks, women did not have many men to marry. When they were married, a number of women were swayed by the teaching that the life of a human was a sea of bitterness, and perceived giving birth as one of the greatest ordeals of life. Because of this, they did not hurry to have babies. A number of girls preferred to become nuns once they grew up. following these, the Tibetan population decreased by about a million in the 200 years before the 1950s.

Women as keepers of traditions

Women shouldered most of the social production and housework and all the burdens of bearing and rearing children without the social re-cognition or status due to them. Due to the fact that those women's roles in the economic activities of both the family and the society are irreplaceable, they were not fully subjected or exposed to the rule of their husbands. To a certain point, they even had the right to not only possess but also to inherit family property. According to the traditions, a Tibetan couple had the option of either living with the man's family, or that of the Woman's family. But these features could not alter women's low status in Tibetan society.

In a nutshell, women in Tibet have improved by becoming heads of businesses, organizations; some have become educators while others have become writers. Women have also headed human right movements. They have also moved to overcome barriers like poverty and prejudice.

The film 'Women in Tibet' is indeed a good collection of scholarly research. All the articles are not only well documented but are also informative. Besides it not only collected and analyzed from former research but also presents new findings. The book has numerous footnotes that are capable of informing the readers sufficient knowledge about Tibet. One can however easily read the book without reading the footnotes Women of Tibet explore…[continue]

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