On Thursday, the Instagram account NAJ Entertainment, which has over 139,000 followers, posted a picture with a longish caption about how “exposure” of one’s body reduces one’s “value and respect.”
The post is written in the form of a brief, dialogue-driven story about a girl and her father. According to the story, the girl purchases an iPhone one day and her father inquires as to what she did first after receiving the phone. She’s got a scratch-resistant sticker and a cover, she says.
The post then compares the girl’s act of getting a phone cover to how women dress themselves. What is the story’s moral? “Indecent dressing and exposing your body diminishes your worth and respect.”
The post is clearly aimed at women who have been following the viral saree trend on TikTok, in which they remove the saree’s aanchal—the decorative end of the garb—from its usual location, i.e. the neck, while filming themselves.
The post, which has 8,135 likes and 3,221 comments, has sparked a discussion among Nepalis on social media about how women are still subjected to objectification, with their free will being trampled, at the hands of society at large, by comparing them to such a material as an iPhone.
“In today’s episode of what women are, we’re iPhones in need of anti-scratch stickers and covers to keep our value and respect, but whose value and respect are we talking about?” wrote @shruteegautamm in the post’s comments section. “Oh, these men who are pressed because of a passing fad? We’ve seen their ‘value and respect,’ I guess.”
Another Instagram user, @diplomatic arbitrary, commented: “First and foremost, using a phone cover is a personal preference.” Second, the saree trend is a personal preference. Third, who is to tell me what I should or should not do with my phone? If I want to, I’ll use the cover; if I don’t, I won’t. Also, comparing a human being to a phone makes no sense.”
Hima Bista, feminist and executive director of Women LEAD Nepal, told Nepal Live Today that such posts can have real-life consequences, making women insecure about their bodies and vulnerable to body-shaming and objectification.
“This post is directly related to the rape culture–sexual assaults, harassment, and rape incidents–that is rampant in Nepali society,” Bista explained. “It gives the impression that the way a person dresses is the reason they are assaulted. It’s a bad idea. An individual’s dignity is not determined by how they dress.”
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