Extramarital affairs increase as Nepal’s society liberalizes
By Tara Bhattarai, KATHMANDU (UPI): Kalpana Khadka, a 27-year-old married woman, says she feels liberated after sending her two children to school at 9 a.m in Kathmandu, the capital. Clad in tight jeans and a maroon T-shirt, she applies her makeup while humming a song from the latest Bollywood movie.
The ring of her mobile phone interrupts her. The caller is her boyfriend, a man she is having an extramarital affair with.
“I am ready for you,” she says into the phone. “Where are you?”
Khadka says she has sex with her boyfriend almost every day. She says she’s more sexually satisfied by him than her husband, who works abroad. She says her boyfriend is more educated and more handsome than her husband.
“I cannot live without him,” Khadka says.
Khadka, originally from Jiri, a small town in Dolakha, a district east of Kathmandu, married a boy from the same town at 16. Once she moved in with her husband’s large family, she became responsible for cooking, washing dishes and clothes and also working in the field.
But the yield of the land they owned was not enought to feed the whole family. So she and her husband decided to move to Kathmandu, where he could work as a taxi driver.
Her husband’s new income was enough to make a living, but frequent vehicle strikes prompted him to take a job in Dubai. He wanted to earn more money so that his children could study at good schools and he could buy property in Kathmandu.
But Khadka says that after her husband departed, she had casual relationships with many men in order to fulfill her sexual desires.
“But now, I am totally tied up in this love,” she says.
Six months after her husband left, Khadka says she fell in love with a young man who lived next door.
“I become very sad if I do not see him,” Khadka says.
Her boyfriend works in a private company in Kathmandu and is also studying to receive a Master of Arts degree. Khadka goes out to the movies or dinner with him almost every day. She says that she also bought a motorbike for her boyfriend out of the money her husband had sent home from abroad.
Khadka used to live in a different apartment in Kathmandu, but she moved six months ago because her neighbors started talking about her closeness with another man, she says. Her boyfriend tutors her children, who call him, “Uncle.” This also aims to assuage neighbors’ suspicions about his frequent visits.
“I cannot say if it’s good or bad,” Khadka says of her extramarital affair.
Khadka’s husband is not aware of her affair. But she plans to leave him once he returns from Dubai so she can start a new life with her boyfriend.
Extramarital affairs are on the rise in Nepal, where the liberalization of a traditionally conservative and patriarchal society is changing the institution of marriage. Economic factors, such as an increase in foreign employment because of high unemployment at home, also adds to infidelity. Police and government representatives confirm an increase in men and women reporting extramarital affairs, which are illegal, but evidence is difficult to find. Sociologists suggest a socio-cultural repositioning of attitudes toward marriage in order to make relationships more equitable and realistic.
There has been no study yet to show the percentage of Nepal’s population having extramarital affairs, says Shishir Subba, a psychology professor at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu. But he says the cases of infidelity have been increasing in recent years.