Kathmandu: On Thursday, an Instagram account, NAJ Entertainment, which has over 139,000 followers, posted a picture with a longish caption focusing on how “exposure” of one’s body reduces a person’s “value and respect”.
The post is written as a brief, dialogue-driven story between a girl and her father. One day the girl buys an iPhone, so the story goes, and her father asks what she did the first thing after having the phone. She got an anti-scratch sticker and a cover, she replies.
The post goes on to compare the girl’s act of getting a cover for her phone to how women dress themselves. The moral of the story? “Indecent dressing and exposure of your body reduces your value and respect.”
It is not hard to miss that the post is directed towards women who have been following the viral saree trend on TikTok, wherein they remove the saree’s aanchal—the decorative end of the garb—from its usual place, i.e. the neck, while filming themselves.
The post, with 8,135 likes and 3,221 comments, has sparked a conversation among Nepalis on social media about how women are still subjected to objectification, with their free will being trampled upon, by comparing them to such a material as an iPhone at the hands of society at large.
“In today’s episode of what women are, we’re iphones that need anti scratch stickers and cover to maintain our value and respect, but whose value and respect are we talking about?” wrote @shruteegautamm in the comments section of the post. “Oh these men who’re pressed because of a mere trend? Guess we’ve seen their ‘value and respect’.”
Another Instagram user, @diplomatic_arbitrary, commented: “Firstly, using a phone cover is a choice. Second of all, the saree trend is a choice. Third, who is anyone to tell me to not do something or do something with my phone? I’ll use the cover if I want to, and I won’t if I don’t want to. Also your analogy makes no sense comparing a human being to a phone?”
Speaking to Nepal Live Today, Hima Bista, feminist and executive director of Women LEAD Nepal, said that such posts can have effects on real life, leading women to be insecure about their body and vulnerable to body-shaming and objectification.
“This post is directly related to the rape culture–sexual assaults, harrassments and rape incidents—that is trenchant in the Nepali society,” Bista said. “It gives the idea that the way an individual dresses is the reason why they get assaulted. It is a wrong idea. The dignity of an individual does not depend on how they dress.”