Gender discrimination in Myanmar

While Emma Watson gave a moving speech last week to end gender equality, the authorities in Myanmar are planning to prohibit selling alcohol to women in alcohol-free zones in Yangon and Mandalay, according to Mizzima.

In the article, a chairman of Public Health Foundation said he has already negotiated with the authorities to designate alcohol-free zones in the two major cities and “the sale of alcohol has been limited to women and children under the age of 18 and alcohol will only be sold to men over the age of 18” in the alcohol-free zones.

That is just plain gender discrimination. I feel like they are targeting the women because they believe women shouldn’t drink alcohol. Even before this news came out, local media has been targeting female drinkers by using the picture of women sitting at beer stations on news articles about the rise of alcohol consumption in the country.

Let me be clear again, I’m not advocating for alcohol. In fact, I hate alcohol and I can’t stand the stench of it, but it’s not fair to limit women from drinking alcohol just because we are women. I believe we have the choice to choose whether we drink or not and nobody has the right to dictate us.

However, I doubt the entire female population in Myanmar will be outraged with this unfair prohibition. In fact, some of them (or the majority of them) might even support it because they also believe it’s improper for women to drink along with other taboos women should not break.

Just a few days ago, a certain popular woman who has many followers on Facebook wrote a controversial post about how women should give more favors to men. Apparently, she believes her husband is greater than her in term of ‘power and glory’ so she won’t allow him to eat chicken feet and fish tails. She also makes sure that she sleeps on the left side of her husband because sleeping on the right side will make her husband lose ‘his power’.

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A funny meme created by Ma PK after reading the post stating women should only sleep on the left side of men. In the meme, the wife is waking up her husband at 3 am because she is sleeping on his right side. 

Believe it or not, her post has over 7,000 likes and many women supported her outdated views. When other people criticized her, she blocked them. She also blocked me too after I shared her post and wrote that it was full of crap lolz.

Foreign people may find it surprising to learn that women are not allowed to wash their ‘lower garments’ together with men’ clothes because it makes them lose their ‘powers’. At my home, we have separate plastic tubs for washing clothes for men and women. When we bought a washing machine, my father prohibited us for washing our longyis, pants, and jeans in the washing machine, but my cousin who does the housework choose to ignore his prohibition on pants and jeans when she’s using the washing machine. But, we still wash our longyis in a tub because we have been taught not to mix our longyis with men’ clothes and we don’t want to make our father mad.

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A meme created by CMK in BUM (Burmese Uncensored Meme) group that said ‘Men’s greatest ability was making women believe they (the men) have power’.

Living in a male-dominated society, local women still face strong objections from both male and female community if they criticize the unfair taboos. When we do talk about it, we receive negative criticisms and most of them end up blaming the author Jue for promoting feminism in Myanmar even though she was opening the eyes of the readers against certain issues like domestic abuses.

Speaking of domestic abuse, I once read an article a few months ago where the author warns women to be wary when they are standing at deserted bus stops. In the article, he and a couple of men witnessed a women being beaten up a man, who they assumed was her husband. It turned out the man was a robber who was pretending to be beating his wife and the woman was unable to speak out because she was being beaten too hard. So the author concluded that women should take heed if they are standing at bus stops alone. The article clearly showed how Myanmar men think domestic abuse is normal. Nobody will call the police if they see a man beating up a woman unlike in other countries. This is the sad reality in our country.

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7 thoughts on “Gender discrimination in Myanmar

  1. I think it is really a good sign to see Myanmar women start to notice about Gender discrimination more and more these days. Few years back i tried to talk to some of my female friends about this inequality in some cases but most of them think that they are not right to change the situation or it is the ultimate right that they should follow or they don’t even know that there is such inequality but they just live with it

    One main issue i see in the situation you’ve mentioned is that sometime those who think a girl drinking alcoholic drinks is bad are mainly women and I think woman should really start to educate each other more not to think thing in that way.

    Even in an extreme case like rape, Myanmar people(including women) do believe that thing like that could be usual if a victim wore short skirts or sexually appealing clothes (i am not sure how to say though). They should have take serious action on the rapist.

    Related to Emma Watson talk i think there was rumor that hackers were threatening her and i have share one’s point on my fb recently which is below

    “Behind every successful women, there’s a naked body, and that shouldn’t be something that women should have to fear.”

    http://mic.com/articles/99702/the-problem-with-nude-photos-isn-t-women-but-the-men-who-obsess-over-them

    (btw i might have find some times to download her speech with this Myanmar data speed lolz)

    • When I posted this post and shared it on Facebook, I was surprised to find a couple of friends sharing them online. I know it’s not easy to educate your peers but our best option is to speak up instead of staying silent.

  2. Pingback: Mohlo by být barmským ženám zakázáno kupovat alkohol? · Global Voices v češtině

  3. Pingback: Could Women Be Banned from Buying Alcohol in Myanmar? · Global Voices

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