Sunday, September 18, 2016

Buddhist nuns pedal for 4 thousand kilometers against human trafficking

A total of 500 Buddhist nuns pedaled for 4 thousand kilometers across the Himalayas between Nepal and India to draw attention to human trafficking in the region. 

Jigme Konchok Lhamo, a 22 year old  nun, explains: "While last year we were helping relief to earthquake victims in Nepal, we learned of many poor girls being sold by their own parents because to help the family survive . We want to do something to change the mentality that considers women inferior to men. This mountain hike shows that women have the same power and strength as men”.
The trip started in Kathmandu and ended in the city of Leh, in northern India. The nuns belong to the Drukpa lineage - one of the "modern" schools of Tibetan Buddhism - and are expert in martial arts. Their skill has earned them the nickname "Kung Fu nuns" and they live mainly in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.

Throwing off their monastic robes and donning sneakers and cycling helmets for their fourth major hike. Along the way they met the local people, government officials, religious leaders and spoke of gender equality, peaceful coexistence and respect for the environment.

The nuns distributed food to the poor and medical care to villagers. They were joined by Gyalwang Drukpa, the 12th head of the order. Jigme Pema Wangchen reformed the movement, inspiring  the revaluation of nuns. 

Before the reform, they were intended for the most menial jobs and were beaten and threatened by male monks. Gyalwang Drukpa gave them leadership roles and introduced courses of Kung Fu, so that women could learn to protect themselves.

Thanks to him, in the last 12 years the number of nuns has increased from 30 to 500 and are active in the spread of values ​​such as gender equality. They are fighting for women in Nepal who are sold as sex slaves by unscrupulous traffickers, attracted by the illusion of well-paying jobs, but then forced to sell their bodies in brothels and private homes.

The earthquake of April 25, 2015 resulted in about 9 thousand victims and left almost 40 thousand children without parents. They, too, are likely to fall into the hands of traffickers, often disguised as holy men and benefactors.

Nun Jigme Konchok Lhamo says: "People think that we have to be locked up in the temple and pray all the time, since we are nuns. But prayer is not enough. The Gyalwang Drukpa teaches us that we must go out and put our prayers into practice. After all, actions speak louder than words ".

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