By Jamyang Kyi
1. What are your thoughts on the increasing number of Tibetan prostitutes in the cities?
Answer: There are some hateful men who use offensive words such as “prostitute, slut, whore” to dishonor the nature of women in general. Even the scholar Gen Sangye Dondrub, whose publications are supposedly rich with “rights” and “equality,” likes to use such types of words. Those people have wounded my heart and the hearts of other women like me. Today, suddenly facing such a question has saddened me.
A popular product is often accompanied by a high demand caused by an active market. But without a market, it is well known that the product would not be able to survive a minute. People understand this principle in essence but it is sad that in this case this principle is often ignored. It is even laughable that people never think about the men who are the customers of the product. Who distinguishes the beauty and the ugliness or the goodness and badness of the prostitutes and customers of prostitutes? The French female writer, Simone de Beauvoir, discusses many reasons and causes for women becoming prostitutes.
Some reasons in this case include women being betrayed by their loved ones, nannies in the city being raped by the head of the family, and countryside women in the cities being deceived by others to destroy their virginity. There are certain reasons for girls caring for and protecting their virginity with their life. This originated from the realization of the private-ownership mentality. The notion that a girl must be a virgin until they get married is attributable to an ideal of men wanting their real sons to inherit their properties. It is said that the custom of appreciating virginity has been common practice since then. According to my friend Dzam-dkar from southern Mdo-smad region, in some pastoral communities of this region, this custom of marrying as a virgin is still a lively practice.
However, it is also common to hear stories of virgins being raped. One of her friends was raped recently. One thing we should understand is that these evildoers are all men. The ones who look down this loss of virginity are also men themselves. Among Han-Chinese ethnicity in the ancient time, prostitutes were mainly female criminals, and the wives and daughters of male criminals. However, I don’t have a clear idea regarding the origin of Tibetan prostitutes and their willingness to enter this work. As a woman, I naturally and normally have a distant feeling toward the women engaging in this type of work. It seems most of the prostitutes are uneducated girls from agricultural and pastoral areas.
They lack the knowledge of preventing illnesses and infectious diseases. Likewise, boys from agricultural and pastoral areas, who are completely ignorant of the knowledge of preventing illness, buy disease in the cities and return home with some sexual diseases that are hard to treat. Recently, on a conference about women’s hygiene and health, Doctor Sonam Tso told a story about a young girl from Yon-ri in Tso-ngon-po area among her patients with a serious vaginal disease. Due to her disturbed mind, after the surgery, it was difficult to give her medical treatment, for she cried and ran away every time the would was being cleaning the wound.
The source of her grief is the fact that her husband, who had recently purchased a prostitute at the Xining Bus Station, transmitted the sexual disease to her. I asked the Dr. Sonam Tso whether she complained about her husband. It seems these farming and pastoral girls even don’t know how to complain. They say such result is fate. This is suffering and risk brought by some men to the health and life of the uncomplaining wives and children. I have heard that lately this situation is becoming more severe in some economically better-off pastoral areas. When men who are full of lust and have easy access to money meet women with a strong desire for money and no interest in work, the courage of sacrificing for lust and money is greater than that of Dri-med Kunden’s (a legendary king famous for making sacrifice-donating his own eyes, children).
In such situations, it is important to give consideration to one’s life and health, and one’s children and family. More seriously, today there is a life-threatening disease called AIDs that worries the whole world. This disease is transmitted through sexual intercourse and blood. Also, it is easy to transmit to people with sexual diseases. Even the world’s socio-economic powerhouse, USA, couldn’t cure this disease. Since we are an ethnicity with 90% of our people illiterate, it is possible say that this type of miserable disease might bring disaster to our people, so everyone should be aware of this disease. Various tools, such as newspapers, books, TV and radio, should be used to clearly discuss and study the causes and effects of this disease.
Although the feeling of being a prostitute is ugly and can bring damage to one’s reputation, prostitution is a fact in our society. Therefore, we have to face this situation, there is no way to hide it. An advice I want to give to the women who are having hard time abandoning this type of work is, “In order to protect your own body, try your best to use condoms. You must use them.” This is a very disappointing advice to give, but I don’t know what else to say, my fellow ladies.
2. Compared to the women in other countries, have you ever felt that the mentality of Tibetan women are too dependent on others?
Answer: When I hear Tibetan men calling women “dependent worms,” I imagine those pretty women who eat good food and wear fancy clothes, without doing any work and without walking in the chilly wind and on the snowy mountains.
In my view, men and women make a living depending on each other in agricultural and pastoral areas. Housekeeping chores as well as most farming and herding tasks are handled by women, but in terms of making strategic plans, women mostly rely on men. Due to this reason, I guess the so-called terms “dependent worm” and “three dependences; depending on the father, depending on yourself and depending on the son” came about. In my view, couples live not only depending on each other, but in terms of physical labor, men depend on women more.
Hence, we should study to see whether the words “dependent worm” and “three dependences” have basis. In most of the Tibetan homes in the cities, besides their jobs, women take care of children and do housekeeping chores more than men do. The important family responsibilities are also on the shoulders of women. According to the current situation, I guess the title of “dependent worm,” should be offered to the men without any hesitation.
3. At present, many college boys say that getting girls depends on the art of words. Thus it seems some college boys’ main discussion topic is girls. Please share some viewpoints by comparing this situation with your school life when you were studying at college.
Answer: I think when any girl happens to fall in love with a boy and decides to choose him as a boyfriend, there must be many reasons. The art of words must be one of the reasons. However, talking artistic words is not that easy. It must require many preconditions. In general, men like talking about women. It is their nature. Since I can remember, countryside men talk about women, boys talk about girls at school. Now at the office, male colleagues still talk about women.
This is not only a long endless story that they never finish telling in their lifetime, but also a treasure in their hearts and a thorn in their sides. Comparing my school time and today, it seems there is a small difference in the way of searching for love. Because in those times, the hearts of both men and women were cleaner, purer, and love was more prioritized than personal advantage.
I am not saying that today everyone is looking for personal advantages, but relatively speaking, I think it is like this. As they say, “Men are creatures of politics and women are creatures of love.” I am an authentic creature of love. I have tasted the sweet of the cream of love, and I also have tasted the bitter flavor of love.
I have CCC in the lambskin robe with anger, and crept in the long thorn valley with anger. However, the only thing I own after declining the feeling of sweet, bitter and sour love, is my wisdom and the little knowledge I have learned. This not only grants new energy to my life, but also makes my brain able to think properly. Since then, I forcefully crossed (X) the solidified habit or custom of treating men as the source of ideas. I feel this is also a meaningful thing in my life. Thank you. In the future, I hope by talking about problems that are firmly related to women, various social professions will pay attention to the difficulties of women and support women. Interviewed by Gonbo Kyi, a graduate student at Tibetan Language and Cultural Institute of Northwest University.
Translated by Reb Sa