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Recently, my dad decide to discuss with me the some issues the Hmong women face because of the cultures and traditions.
According to the Hmong traditions, in a house or household, there is a family spirit or guardian that protects the family. It will protect everyone in the family but some of the rules for protecting the women will change especially if a girl gets married.
If a girl gets married, she of course will leave her family to go live with her husband and from then on it’s the duty of the guardian of her husband’s family to protect her and no longer that of her own family (if you’ve seen the film “Mulan 2”, it’s kind of like that where the ancestors tell Mushu once Mulan gets married, the guardianship will switch over to those of her husband’s family).
The problem here is that if there were to be an issue between husband and wife like their relationship didn’t work out or there are issues of domestic violence and they divorce, neither of the families will be willing to take care of the girl especially the funeral rites. There is a saying, “Koj ciaj los koj yog luag neeg, koj tuag los koj yog luag dab” which means, “Dead or alive, you are of their people now”. When a girl marries into another family, all of her needs as well as spiritual needs will be taken care of by her husband’s family whether it be soul calling ceremonies or funeral rites.
If the girl were to divorce for whatever reasons whether she willingly agreed to divorce or is kicked out by her husband, she can go back to live with her family but she won’t be protected anymore by the household guardian because she already belongs to another family through marriage. And if she were to die, she cannot die in her own family’s home and there will also be issues to who will take care of the funeral rites. And if no one takes care of the funeral rites then basically her soul will remain in limbo. But for a guy, wherever he goes in life, he can still come back to live with his parents and his own funeral rites will still be taken care of by his parent’s family.
Life can be even more difficult if the girl who returns home is also pregnant whether she’s married or not. She can live with her family but only until she gives birth to her child. She cannot give birth inside of her family’s home because it’s taboo. So before she gives birth she has to go make a home or shelter of her own away from her family and give birth there and she can’t return to her parent’s home for at least a month. From that point on, she’s basically on her own for a whole month.
Surprisingly, this still carries on into the 21st century especially for the Hmong families who still keep very, very strict traditional rules. There have been Hmong girls here in the United States whose parents still follow tradition and if they were to come home pregnant one day, they wont’ be allowed back home until 30 days after the birth. The moment that they give birth in the hospital and a few days after they are discharged, they’ve got nowhere else to go, especially for teenage girls. Some of these issues have even been taken to court because the girl reports to the police or CPS that her parents are not willing to take her back; that it’s negligence or abuse.
Have there been any issues like this in the Native American culture or anything similar?
Hi, I am a person with Native American heritage. I worked at a Hmong nonprofit in the Twin Cities, MN for several years. We often shared stories, the animals were different but the fables very similar. If you listen to the traditional songs, the vocalizations are similar to Native American plains nations. I think that there is also a link with Sami and indigenous nations near Finland, just look up their traditional outfits. It would be cool to do a DNA profile between the three… Peace to ALL my Relations!
Thank you for the add . this is a great group , i can just tell.