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20062014Access_to_Justice_for_Women

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20062014Access_to_Justice_for_Women

  1. 1. “Access to Justice for Women” Action Research in 5 districts in the North Eastern States of India under Schedule 6 or excluded from Article 371A, B and G of the Constitution of India ExposureTrip toBijolia-Rajasthan 28 th – 29 th September 2012 1
  2. 2. Research Agency Impulse NGO Network Lower Lachumiere Near Horse Shoe Building Shillong-793001 Meghalaya, India Email: ingon@rediffmail.com Phone: 91-384-2503140 Website: www.impulseasia.org Technical Support/ Sponsored By National Resource Centre for Women, National Mission for Empowerment of Women, Ministry of Women and Child Development First Floor Janpath Hotel, Janpath New Delhi-110001 Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, New Delhi And United Nations Development Programme The Research Team takes full responsibility for the content of the study, views expressed are those of the author and the respondents, and can therefore in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of National Mission of Empowerment for Women, the Department of Justice or UNDP. 2
  3. 3. Acknowledgements Impulse NGO Network is deeply grateful to the respondents and the participants in the meeting and consultation for this study who willingly shared their views, personal experiences and their valuable time with our researchers. The team is thankful to the National Resource Centre for Women (NRCW), National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW), especially the then Additional Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ms. Ratna Prabha, and Ms. Rashmi Singh, Executive Director, National Resource Centre for Women , NMEW, for their immense support towards this collaborative gender convergence initiative between UNDP, Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice and NRCW, Ministry of Women and Child Development and for providing institutional mechanism for completion of this entire process and ensure its sustainability. We also acknowledge Advocate, Devika Singh, Senior Project Advisor, NRCW/NMEW; Dr. Poulomi Pal, Senior Research Officer, NRCW/NMEW; Ms. Swati Mehta, Project Manager, Access to Justice for Marginalized People UNDP for their extended technical help, support in ensuring intellectual contribution and valuable comments on each step of report writing, which brought the study report to its highest standards. I would like to thank the Research Team especially the Research Consultants, Field Researchers, Tabulators, Transcriptions, Focus Group Discussion Team of the four states of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura, who have put together an effort to ensure that Access to Justice by Women in 7 Districts in North Eastern States under the Sixth Schedule or Article 371 A, B of Constitution of India, becomes a reality in this short time bound period. Impulse NGO Network would like to extend its gratitude to the UNDP for their generous support to undertake this elaborate and extensive research, considering all relevant aspects of Access to Justice by Women under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution (Article 371 A, B and G of the Indian Constitution) due to its tribal population. Above all, the team at Impulse which ensured that every objective of the Research is systematically taken care of, cross checking data crucial in every research, including care of financials, Mr. Debotosh Purkayastha, Finance Assistant; Mr. A.G. Kharbhih, Finance Board Director; Ms. L. Lamboi, Case Manager and Rosanna Lyngdoh, Board Director of Impulse NGO Network, Shillong. We would like to express sincere thanks to our Research Consultants Ms. Elisa Makinen, Ms. Priyam Saharia, Ms. Bhaswati Borgohain and Shweta Desai’s contribution, especially in documenting the main findings of in-depth interviews, Focus Group Discussion, Closed Ended and Secondary Data analysis. I would personally also like to thank to Jennifer Liang, the Ant, who contributed in finalizing the questionnaire; Asola Imkong, Diphupar, Dimapur Nagaland who gave tremendous support in networking in the Nagaland research. Pramila Sharma for proof reading and editing. Near Horse Shoe Building, Lower Lachumiere, Shillong – 793 001, Meghalaya, India Phone No: +91 364 – 2503140, ingon@rediffmail.com , impulsengonetwork@gmail.com www.impulseasia.org 4
  4. 4. Impulse thanks Alice Garg, BAL Rashmi Society for arranging the visit to PRI in Bijolia, Jaipur, Rajasthan; Amod Kanth, Genaral Secretary Prayas, New Delhi; Dr. Ranjana Kumari, President, Women Power Connect New Delhi; Dr. N. Hamsa, Executive Director, WPC, New Delhi; NRCW/NMEW, GRC New Delhi; Mr. Mrinal Ghosh, Coordinator, Care of Needy Children Rightfully Nurtured (Concern); Benjamin Khasousa, Programme Officer, World Vision, Kopila, Siliguri for his co-operation and in providing valuable time to interact with women Leaders from the five Districts of East Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya, Kohima Nagaland, Aizwal Mizoram and Agartala Tripura during different phases of the Exposure Trip undertaken from October 2012 to November 2012 in three phases. Hasina Kharbhih Chair of Board, Impulse NGO Network, Shillong Team Lead, Research on “Action Research on Access t o Justice by women in 7 District in North Eastern State under the Sixth Scheduled or Article 371A, B and G of the Constitution of India”. Near Horse Shoe Building, Lower Lachumiere, Shillong – 793 001, Meghalaya, India Phone No: +91 364 – 2503140, ingon@rediffmail.com , impulsengonetwork@gmail.com www.impulseasia.org 5
  5. 5. Table of Contents S.No. Particulars Page No. Executive Summary 7 A Introduction 18 - Overview 18 - Goals and Objectives 18 - Methodology 19 - Design of the Report 21 - Data Analysis 21 - Duration of the Study 21 - Limitations 21 B District wise Reports 22 Nagaland 22- District Kohima Meghalaya - District East Khasi Hills 88 - District Jaintia Hills Mizoram 158 - District Lawngtlai Tripura 205- District West Tripura C Bibliography 243 D Research Team 250 6
  6. 6. Executive Summary Introduction On behalf of the National Resource Centre for Women (NRCW), National Mission for Empowerment of Women, Ministry of Women and Child Development and Government of India (“NMEW”), Impulse NGO Network undertook an ac tion research project on ‘Access to Justice for Women’ in five districts of the North Eastern States. The Study was conducted from August 1st and November 30th, 2012 and funded under the ‘Project on Access to Justice for Marginalized People’ implemented by the Department of Justice in the Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India (“DoJ”) with the suppo rt of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with and administered by the NRCW, NMEW in consultation with the DoJ & UNDP. Schedule 6 of the Indian Constitution refers to administration of tribal areas in North Eastern States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. Article 371 A, B and G of the Indian Constitution protects tribal laws that apply to States of Assam, Tripura, and Nagaland, guaranteeing a system of self-governance and ensuring that the tribal regions are able to preserve their existing system of protecting tribal rights and ensure decentralisation of power. In the tribal system, Village Dorbars (Traditional Institutions) or the Village Council Development Committees have no mandate for women representation, and therefore there is no way of ensuring even minimum representation of women. The aim of the research was to understand the access to justice for women in the scheduled tribal communities and its direct or indirect relation, if any, to the women’s political participation. The objectives were to assess the necessity, need and f or m of legal intervention through a consultative process in the community. The research also aimed to create a base to identify opportunities of convergence between the various stakeholders such as the community, local NGOs, tribal community leaders and participating state governments to boost women’s participation in governance and access to justice. The report is broken down in five district reports beginning with an introduction of the state, its history, geographic and demographic features and moving on to the understanding of women’s status and rights, women’s participation in Governance and Judiciary system; violence against women and women's access to justice for the crimes they may have experienced, concluding with key findings and recommendations. Methodology The study used a combination of various methodologies to collect primary and secondary data and do the analyses. Primary data was collected through a schedule of formal interviews in Focused Groups and Observations for qualitative data. A brief training was conducted to familiarize the field researchers locally appointed from the districts. It included scheduling interviews, methods for data collection, and emphasized various aspects of the research subject 7
  7. 7. and an overall understanding of the conceptual framework of access to justice. Close Ended Interviews were conducted for primary data collection through a questionnaire created by the core research team. An open-ended questionnaire was also used to get the local people’s general understanding of the subject. A target of 70 questionnaires was given to each district for interviewing professionals from law, business, teaching, government and public service, NGOs and health-care workers to learn and understand their views on ‘Access to Justice for Women’. Focused Group Discussions (FGD) at the grassroots level such as women’s groups, men’s groups, community based organizations, self-help groups, student unions, etc were used to get their understanding of the concept and awareness of women’s access to justice in their states. The participants did not have high level of education. 11 Focused Group Discussions were conducted in each district with a range of 10 to 30 members in a group. These discussions were documented and analyzed. Twenty Seven In-depth interviews were conducted in each district. The interviews encouraged spontaneous expression from participants and were audio recorded for transcription and analysis. The participants included a mix of people who interfaced with general public like government officials, politicians, media personnel, experts on the subject from the Academia, Police Protection Officers, Officers from the Women’s cell, Probation Officers, etc. In order to get participation from important stakeholders who could not fit in any group, seminars were organized at district level, and one consultation meeting was also organised at the state level where District and State level dignitaries were invited to share the findings and give their recommendations for way forward. The research study also conducted exposure trips for a select group of rural women playing an important role in their communities and who could be in a position to take up leadership and advocacy roles to carry forward the objectives of the research. The trips were organized to National Resource Centre for Women and Gender Resource Centres for Women in Delhi; Panchayati Raj Institution in Rajasthan and West Bengal, for understanding the functioning and the roles played by women. It could be observed that they are well functioning. 25 women went on such visits. At the end of the trip, feedback was taken by way of a questionnaire. Secondary data was collected to know the status of women’s access to justice from various sources that maintain records like government departments, universities, colleges, newspapers, magazines and journals on the various aspects of ‘Access to Justice for Women. Customary laws on the topic from each district were reviewed and a comparative analysis done between these and the laws promulgated by the Central Government in other parts of the country. The research examined historical evidence of women in leadership positions or if they had ever been part of the decision making process. A comparative analysis was drawn with the past and the present position of women and factors that contributed to the decline or improvement of the status of women The collected data was verified, processed and is presented in tables and graphs to facilitate analysis and interpretation. 8
  8. 8. The findings of the study were shared with State Governments to help in creating protocols to address women’s participation in governance and also to empower them to deal with gender-based violence. Key Findings All the 5 districts covered revealed similar trends on women’s access to justice. Women enjoy traditional respect and social freedom. There is no culture of dowry. Sex selective abortions are almost non-existent and women’s literacy rates are high compared to rest of the country. Nevertheless, women in all the 5 districts face discrimination. The mindset of male superiority and stereotypical work division on a basis of gender are strong. The local customary laws are not sensitive towards women; they do not enjoy civil, social and economic rights fully. Women are not able to fully participate in the political decision-making and therefore, women specific issues are often neglected. Laws designed for protection of the women are not fully implemented. Tripura has reported the highest rate of crime against women at 37.0 per one lakh population during the year 2011 as compared to 18.9 per one lakh population crime rate at the national level. While the other target states presented lower rates of violence against women, than the national average, respondents stated that the violence against women in their respective states often goes underreported. NAGALAND Nagaland has a patriarchal tribal society. The status of women in Nagaland is considered to be better than in many other states in India. The absence of dowry in Naga society means daughters are not considered a burden. Sons are still preferred but there is no daughter aversion. Sex selective abortions are almost non-existent. Women do not enjoy property rights fully. They have the right to inherit immovable property only in exceptional cases. In such cases however, the male members of the family can take the matter to a traditional justice institution and claim the property for themselves. Laws related to women’s civil rights are poorly implemented; their health rights are neglected. Statistics on maternal mortality are either unavailable or unreliable. The schemes to support institutional birth delivery have not been implemented properly: institutional birth delivery in Nagaland is among the lowest in the country at 12 percent. Nagaland has not fully implemented Domestic Violence Act. Equal Pay for Equal Work Act and the Maternity Benefit Act are relevant only in the government sector. All the 1286 villages in Nagaland follow their unique, unwritten customary laws and practices. However, the customary laws that have gender dimension are similar throughout the State and are discriminatory against women. The traditional mindset of a male superiority is strong. Traditions limit the role of a woman to household work. Even though, increasingly, more women 9
  9. 9. work outside of the house, and in the rural areas women form a major part of the workforce in agriculture - still the household work and care of children are exclusively women’s responsibilities. Women are represented politically by men exclusively. There has never been a woman legislator in the history of the 11 State Legislative Assemblies. Every recognised village in Nagaland has a Village Council. The Rules for Administration of Justice and Police in Nagaland Act, 1937, empowers the council to maintain law and order within the village as well as administer justice in accordance with the customary laws. Traditionally only men could become members, as the customary laws strictly forbid women to participate in political decision-making. Nevertheless, today it is possible for women to present their candidacy in all the levels of political decision making but they are at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to getting elected. As it stands, only truly privileged women can even consider getting involved in politics. Poor economic rights combined with the ingrained corrupt practices in elections deprive women of the resources to get elected. The male-dominated village councils and tribal organizations oppose the 33% women reservation because it violates customary laws, but in general do not oppose women participation in elections knowing well that they would not be able to garner support. Customary laws are created, interpreted and applied exclusively by men as women’s participation in the traditional institutions is restricted or, at the best, minimal. The customary laws and court practices do not encourage women who may have experienced violence to seek justice. For instance, Angami customary law dictates that if a rape takes place on the main road, it is not considered as a crime. According to this law, in case of a crime, the victim would be dragged down the hill, below the main road. Customary laws dictate the domestic violence must be handled in the family and can be tried in the traditional institution only if the wife divorces her husband. In case of a divorce the husband gets the custody of the children. Therefore, a victim of domestic violence can only get justice if she decides to leave her children to the violent husband. Many Village Councils set barriers for women to participate in hearings for what it describes as their “ gossiping nature” or “ weak minds”. Women are frequently forbidden to attend the resolving of conflicts, even if a relative is one of the parties. Notably, Article 371(A), which is a special provision with respect to the State of Nagaland states: (1) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution – (a) No Act of Parliament in respect of- (i) religious or social practices of the Nagas, (ii) Naga customary law and procedure, (iii) administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law, (iv) ownership and transfer of land and its resources, shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides. This has implied that the customary inequalities have continued to prevail in the State despite the fact that women in other parts of the country enjoy equal rights. Recommendations Article 371(A) was designed to protect Naga traditions from the infringement of the outside world, but now is adversely impacting the rights of Naga women. Nagaland needs to take concrete actions to bring their customary laws into the new century. The guiding principles of customary laws should be well-defined, documented and discriminatory practices eliminated. A review of customary laws is crucial for it to evolve to serve modern Naga society and to maintain 10
  10. 10. relevance for future generations. Well-defined customary laws would make it more difficult for vested interests to misuse Article 371(A) for protecting discriminatory and regressive practices. All cases presented and tried in traditional institutions must be documented by the focal point of the traditional institutions and submitted to the nearest police station to create statistical information of the crimes taken place in the State. Criminal cases should not be tried in the Traditional Institutions but proper trial should be conducted in the Court of Law. Nagaland Government should legislate and enforce the practice of last will and property rights of women. Parents must have an exclusive right to decide to whom they wish to gift their property and except legal heirs nobody should be in a position to challenge their decision. Stronger efforts for women empowerment are needed. Nagaland State Women’s Commission have reached the block level in each 11 district to raise awareness on women’s rights. However, the awareness campaigns alone are not enough. Women need to be empowered politically and participate in the governance institutions, both at the village and state level. The laws and schemes designed for protection of the women must be fully implemented and enforced. MEGHALAYA This study shows that the matrilineal system has accorded Khasi women certain privileges that are less evident in other states in India. The public perception is that women should have as much access to education as men. In fact, in Jaintia Hills and East Khasi Hills, the proportion of literate women is higher than men. There is near absence of sex-selective abortions and no dowry system among matrilineal tribes of Meghalaya. The dominant public perception is that women have the right to mobility, education, and even to choose marriage-partners as they desire. Though the high social status of women uncovered in the study is a positive finding, the real status of women gradually unfolds itself when one probes deeper into decision-making structures within families and society. The study starkly brings to light the unique and complex situation that occurs when a matrilineal culture co-exists within a deeply entrenched patriarchal system that dominates women in myriad obvious and subtle ways. Khasi women have a central role in leadership positions in their neighborhoods and their immediate communities: for example, informally organized women’s groups in churches and neighborhoods fight against alcoholism and collaborate to maintain cleanliness and hygiene in their communities. Women also play an important role in day to day household decision-making, while men play the dominant role in making financial and the decisions of the children’s education. This discrimination in decision-making power comes sharply to light on property rights. Though the youngest daughters have the right to inherit property, decision-making authority with regard to management or disposal of property still rests with men. So women have right to property but do not have the authority to make decisions. At the same time, the right of inheritance granted to women comes with responsibilities to care for children, parents and other elders in the family. Our study shows that property rights for Khasi women have not translated into economic independence. Even though women in Meghalaya constitute a greater portion of the workforce compared to an India average, they work mostly as casual labour and marginal workers. 11
  11. 11. Loose marriage ties, extra-marital affairs, alcoholism and marriage at an early age were widely regarded as factors that contributed to the high divorce rates which has strong financial implications for Khasi women. Earlier, a divorced or widowed woman could seek protection with the clan. Now with loss of common pool of resources due to urbanization, men sell off property because they have the decision making power and the slow breakdown of the traditional clan system, women are losing control over property rights. The plight of deserted women is even more vulnerable since customary laws don’t allow a woman to seek alimony. There is a variety of the decision making institutions in Meghalaya; Traditional Dorbars at the locality, village and district level, District Councils as well as Formal Courts in the district and state level. The Traditional Dorbars are political institutions that can try petty crimes according to the traditional unwritten customary laws. District Councils try cases such as divorce and property related issues. The Formal Courts try cases as per the law. However, in practise there is no clear demarcation of the mandates and powers of these institutions: Traditional Dorbars are trying also rape cases even though it does not fall under their mandate. At the village level the Dorbars do not allow women to participate in the decision making. In the recent years Traditional Dorbars at district headquarters and in the urban localities have started to allow women representation. In the elections of District Councils women are allowed to present their candidacy. However, the women representation remains low. The inequitable status of Khasi women becomes further evident with the extent of violence faced by Khasi women within the family and in society. The high rates of violence against women and the accelerating rise of divorce cases draws attention to the status of institutions of justice for women. There is widespread ignorance about statutory laws protecting women even among the educated people. The complexities involved in approaching formal courts and the ambiguity of rules and regulations prevents women from accessing the formal courts for justice. Recommendations for Meghalaya It is imperative to improve access of rural women to educational opportunities. Also, efforts on a war footing should be made by the Health Department to improve access of rural women to institutional birth deliveries by setting up health care centres such as Public Health Centres and the Community Health Centres. There should be clear demarcation regarding the jurisdiction of traditional dorbars, District Council and formal or statutory courts. Codification of the customary laws and documentation for easy understanding of its interpretation is necessary. Customary laws need to be thoroughly reviewed to remove discriminatory stances, such as restrictions for women to participate in decision-making institutions. Women Bill prepared by District Council needs to be followed up by NGOs together with Department of Law to bring a wider discussion at the state level. A few all-women police stations have been set up in Shillong. They need to expand to other districts and serve as centres where convergence of stakeholders needs to take place to ensure successful service provider linkages. Shelter homes for victims of different kinds of violence are required so that they have a safe place to stay while their cases are being resolved. NGOs and the government, both working closely together, must provide support services for women. 12
  12. 12. Mobile courts should be set up, that will approach a group of villages every 3 months. This will increase the ability of women to access formal courts. State Legal Service Authorities should engage in more awareness generation on codified laws for protecting women as well as the process of approaching formal courts so that more women start accessing the formal institution of justice with confidence. TRIPURA Majority of the tribal respondents believed and asserted that women’s status was good and that it has improved over the last ten years. The literacy rate has improved sharply among females as compared to males. Government schemes like MGNREGA and Self-help groups are giving more financial power to women, asserting a positive change. The health status of the state is better than the national standards and is improving steadily. However, improvement in the health sector has only touched the urban women. The rural tribal women are still under privileged and their access to health care remains an issue of concern. The distribution of power and authority of the society is unequal and favors the men. The status and role of women is limited to the domains of family. In some rural areas marriages happen before the attainment of legal age of marriage. In terms of divorce, the participants asserted that the decisions are always in favour of men. Although women are entitled to equal right to property and inheritance, it is seldom practiced. The decision making power for major decisions of family like buying assets largely stays with the male. Women are still economically dependent on men to a large extent. However, where decisions regarding daily household, household expenditure and children’s education are concerned, the decision making is shared. Women’s participation in politics is increasing. Two most important and functional institution that have come up are the Tripura State Women’s Commission and Women Police stations. Tripura has a 3 tier Panchayati Raj system, Tribal Autonomous district Council for tribal population and Municipality with 50% reservation for women in each of those institutions. The 50% reservation in all the grassroots level institutions has given opportunities to women to be represented which has encouraged women to become more active also in other socio-political positions in Tripura. The number of women in government offices is increasing. Although there is improvement of women's political participation at the ground level, at the top level there are still very few women political leaders. The government and NGOs have followed the Equal Remuneration Act, but in the unorganized sector women still get less payment. Violence against women in Tripura is the most emerging problem in the present scenario. Tripura has reported the highest rate of crime against women at 37.0 during the year 2011 as compared to 18.9 crime rate at the National level. Other than dowry and domestic violence, there is one more social evil for women in the form of “w itch hunting” in some rural tribal areas. There are formal justice delivery systems in place but they are not effective as most people are unable to access them, primarily due to lack of awareness as well as opaqueness and complexity 13
  13. 13. of procedures. Respondents expressed they have started to lose faith in the formal justice system. However, the traditionally or customary avenues for justice system are perceived as anti-women. Recommendations Violence against women in Tripura is a great concern. Laws designed for protection of women must be enforced more effectively, including the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, to put the access to justice in more active mode and to take faster action. Even though the 50% reservation for women up to the municipal level is encouraging, women must be present in the State Legislative Assembly also. As attempted in this study, detailed research on Customary Laws and practices in the 6th schedule areas needs to be carried out urgently. Better accessibility of the justice system is required and documentation of the customary laws and practices needs to be taken up by NGOs and Universities. There should be a strong network and lobbying for women’s access to justice where the efforts of NGO’s, Civil Society Organizations and Government Departments come together and ensure that the awareness initiatives on women’s rights take into consideration the situation of tribal women and customary laws - this process should be undertaken by State Legal Service Authority and the State Department of Law. MIZORAM Mizoram has a patriarchal social structure. Women in Mizoram do not face gender based discrimination in education opportunities, or practices such as honour killings or dowry deaths as prevalent in other parts of India. Mizoram also enjoys one of the healthiest sex ratio in the country, which implies that the birth of a girl child is not unwanted or unwelcomed. Women can marry a partner of their choice. Mizoram has a higher percentage of female voters than male voters. Women are visible in the State, after Kerala, Mizo women have the highest level of literacy. Women enjoy the freedom to pursue their career or higher education outside the state. Women are the key in-charge of the main bazaars, shops, restaurants, hotels, government offices, NGOs, private organizations and even Church bodies. Mizoram woman are seen to enjoy freedom in social and domestic life. These notions build up an inference that women enjoy high equality in stature and position with their male counterparts. A close study or even an understanding of the Mizo society would however reveal a different picture. The equality in Mizoram is not a reality. The status of Mizo women continues to remain a cause of concern due to the strong prevalence of traditional customary notions. Even in case a woman works outside, she is expected to carry out the household work without help from her husband. Women are expected by the society to behave according to the traditional notions; she is expected to be quiet, docile, hard working and able to abide by men. Women are discriminated in the society through the customary laws and traditional practices. The rudimentary laws are highly unfavourable to women taking away their right to property, 14
  14. 14. inheritance and custody of children in case of divorce. The Mizo Divorce Ordinance calls for alimony for divorced women and a right to claim custody of her children, both of which are hitherto absent from the highly male dominated customary laws The Mizo Divorce Ordinance has not been passed by the Mizoram State Legislative Assembly. There are no women members in the Assembly. The patriarchal structure of the society restricts women from participating in the decision making processes. While a large number of women are employed in the formal or informal sector, the percentage of women in the top-ranking, decision-making positions is dismal. The Village Council, the District Council and the Mizoram Legislative Assembly do not prohibit women from participating in elections; yet, the dismal and almost negligible representation of the women year after year creates a worrisome situation. Interviews conducted through primary research speak highly in favour of equality for women. In the past, women were not able to fight for their rights because of low awareness levels. The situation has changed with increase in the level of education and employment of women. The work done by women’s organisations like MIZO HMEICHHE INSUIHKHAWM PAWL, MHIP, raising awareness and lobbies for women’s rights at the ground and the state level is exemplary. Recommendations Customary laws must be documented by the State Department of Law with support of Universities and NGOs. Discriminatory practices regarding property, inheritance, participation in decision making institutions and custody of children must be eliminated by amending the customary laws. The process has already been initiated by local NGOs and CSOs requesting amendments of the customary laws and particularly to ensure inheritance rights for women. The Mizo Divorce Ordinance, which recognises the financial right of a divorced woman along with claim of custody of her children, needs to be passed by the Legislative Assembly. Women must enjoy equal rights to participate fully in the decision making in the Village Councils, the District Councils and in the Legislative Assembly. The research shows that there is a wide acceptance of quota for women to encourage participation in politics and traditional institutes. Reservation of 1/3 seats in the Aizawl Municipal Council elections in 2010, guaranteed representation of women in the council. Reservation should be extended to all the political institutions and it can be introduced for a limited period of time, for example 30 years, to boost participation of women. It could be later terminated in a phased manner once the notion of women in higher decision making roles and positions is entrenched. The Campaigns for women empowerment are needed, as the mindset of male superiority is strong. Both Government and Civil Society Organizations must collaborate in organizing a state wide campaign that also reaches the tribal areas, where the traditional customary laws are applied. 15
  15. 15. Exposure Trip Feedback and Recommendations An exposure trip was designed for 25 women from the five districts. 5 women were selected from each of the targeted districts to experience the working of Panchayati Raj institutions (PRIs) in other states of India. This was to increase women’s understanding of the role and participation of women in a PRI set up. The women selected for the exposure trip had political aspirations; some of them already had experience in contesting elections and or were former or present members of village councils. Considering the dismal level of women’s political participation in political institutions (no representation in the higher bodies like Legislative Assembly or the Parliament), it was necessary for these women to see how women played an important role in the Panchayati system in other States. The exposure trip was divided into three groups, as it was not possible to get all the 25 women leaders to travel together at one time. Women from East Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya, visited New Delhi and Rajasthan from 26th September to 29th September 2012. They experienced the working of the Government through interaction with members of the National Resource Centre for Women (NRCW), National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW). They were warmly welcomed by the Additional Secretary and Mission Director, NMEW who provided them an overview of the Mission. They also interacted with representatives of each domain of the mission and developed an understanding on how various issues under various banners of gender rights, economic empowerment, social empowerment, health and nutrition etc. impact women. They appreciated the need for a convergent approach on all issues to holistically impact status of women. The group also visited Support Services run by NGOs PRAYAS, Centre for Social Research and Women Power Connect, Gender Resource Centre. They felt that the Gender Resource Centre is an effective intervention unit to help women in distress. They found the unit innovative because of the convergence of different departments in the State level and linkages between different allied system to address women specific issues such as health, legal assistance and violence, making it easier for women to access justice and support services within a community. The women also appreciated that the financial resources are collected by one agency and then fully and efficiently utilized to ensure optimum utilization and coverage. The group travelled to Rajasthan and the women were impressed with the functioning of PRIs in Bijolia, especially how the women Panchayat leaders worked to bring handpumps in the village because of the long distance to fetch water. The participants found the women leaders in the Panchayats energetic and proactive in working for development of the community. However, the women recognized that in the cases of crime against women, the PRIs do not have the same level of social legitimacy to intervene like the Dorbar Shnong in Meghalaya. They observed that people do not approach the PRIs to seek justice for crimes. The women participants agreed that there should be 33% reservation for women in Dorbar Shnong as in the PRIs. Women from Lawngtlai, Mizoram, and Kohima, Nagaland, visited NGOs and the Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) in Naxalbari, Siliguri, West Bengal, from 27th to 29th of October 2012. They were given an opportunity to interact with Adivasi Mahasabha Paashcham, Naxalbari Tea Estate, Raipara Mahila Samiti and CONCERN that runs “APNEY” drop in Centre for Street Children. 16
  16. 16. Women from Tripura visited Siliguri, West Bengal, from 16 to 17 November 2012. They visited NGOs, Panchayat Raj Institution and self help group of Jalpaiguri, World Vision project as well as Cancer Relief Centre set up under the Mission Convergence programme of the Delhi Government, to see women’s participation in politics and the role women played in different organisations for their empowerment. The participants felt the exposure trip gave them an insight of collective movements and institutions functioning for the development of women’s issues. They felt it was important to witness how another state was addressing the issues on disparities in case of crime, justice, divorce, marriage and inheritance amongst other issues. They were able to compare the political, civil and economic rights of women as well as how the disputes are solved. They were impressed to see active women in decision-making positions and wished that women in their home state would also become more active toward improving the status of women. They were particularly interested in how to create women-friendly policies and how the empowerment could spread to the grass-root level. It is expected that these women that participated in the exposure trip, have a better understanding on the importance of female representation in decision-making and leadership positions. It may help them further in initiating debate or supporting any policies for the development of women. 17
  17. 17. Introduction An Overview The Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution pertains to the administration of the tribal areas in the North Eastern States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. Article 371 A, B and G of the Indian Constitution protects tribal laws applying in certain states such as Assam, Tripura, and Nagaland. This guarantees a system of direct self-governance that ensures the tribal regions in the North East preserve their existing systems of governance and provides protection to tribal rights. While the intention of the 6 th Schedule and Article 371 A, B and G is to ensure decentralisation of power; there are no Panchayati Raj Institutions in these areas. Structures of functioning are verydifferent from the Panchayati three-tier system. The equivalents of the Panchayats are the Village Dorbars and Village Council Development Committees that dont have any mandate for women representation unlike the Panchayati three-tier system. Therefore, there is no way to ensure a minimum representation of women, as is now mandated in the panchayats. The local equivalent of panchayats, that is, the local durbar or the village council development committees, as exist in Meghalaya and Assam respectively, restricts women’s participation. Hence, women are unable to participate in decisions concerning governance, justice and interpretation of Tribal laws. This may have the potential of limiting women’s access to the decision making process in governance, justice and equitable promulgation and interpretation of local customary laws. The Impulse NGO Network with a mission to work towards ensuring equal human rights for all particularly women and children, undertook on behalf of the National Resource Centre for Women (NRCW), National Mission for Empowerment of Women, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India (“NMEW”) an Action Research on ‘Access to Justice by Women’ in the 5 districts of the North Eastern state Longtalai (Mizoram), West Tripura (Tripura) Kohima (Nagaland), East Khasi Hills (Meghalaya) and Jaintia Hills (Meghalaya). The research tried to understand women’s access to justice in select districts and if there is any relation a direct or indirect between women’s access to justice and restrictions on political participation. The Study has been funded under the ‘Project on Access to Justice for Marginalized People’ being implemented by the Department of Justice in the Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India (“DoJ”) with the support of the United Nations Development programme (UNDP) and is in collaboration with and also administered by the NMEW in consultation with the DoJ. Goals and Objectives The research assessed the need of legal intervention in the community, its necessity and form through a consultative process for the community. The findings of the study were shared withthe respective State Governments to create protocols that address participation of women in governance to empower them to address gender based violence. The research also examined women’s leadership historically to determine whether women were ever a part of the process 18
  18. 18. and if so, then a comparative analysis with the present position of women was drawn.The factors that contributing to decline or improvement as the case maybe, were particularly studied for indentification, primarily to reform discriminatory cultural practices of the tribal community. The research was conducted with the aim to create a basis for identifying opportunities of convergence between in the, various stakeholders such as the community, local NGOs, tribal community leaders and relevant state governments to increase women’s participation in governance and access justice. Methodology The methodology of research and study was a mix of various methods to collect data and analyses. The following methods were used for primary data collection and secondary data. Primary data was obtained through interviews, focus group and observations with emphasis on qualitative data. For collecting primary data formal interviews schedules were administered. In order to familiarize the field researchers who were appointed from the respective district, with the interview schedules and method and data collection, training programme was organized. Although most of the Field Researchers had prior experience of data collection, the training was to familiarize them with the issue, and inculcate an overall understanding on conceptual framework of access to justice. Closed Ended Interviews Interviews were conducted to collect primary data with close-ended type questionnaires with a target of 70 questionnaires per district. The target respondents for these questionnaires were individuals (men/women/youth) from different occupations. The open-ended questionnaire was given so to get a general understanding of the common people of the issue in society. The data was tabulated and analysed. The interviews were conducted for women, men and youth in the profession of law, business, teaching, government or public service, NGOs and health-care. The idea was to learn and understand views of people from different walks of life on access to justice by women within the identified districts. Focused Group Discussions The Focused Group Discussions were used to collect data from various stakeholders like women’s groups, men’s groups, community based organ izations, self-help groups, student unions, etc to get a focused understanding of access to justice. This gave an understanding of what people at the grassroots level feel and understand about the concept of women’s access to justice and their awareness of the issue in their own state. Each Focused Group Discussion had a minimum of 10 members and a maximum of 30. The target number of Focused Group Discussions conducted was 11 in each district. The participants in the FGDs were mostly people who have not had higher education. The discussions were documented and analyzed. 19
  19. 19. In-depth Interviews In-depth interviews with key informants were conducted with a target of 27 in each district using a broad interview guide, audio recordings were used to transcribe and analyze. The key informants included government officials from the Department of Social Welfare, State Womens’ Commission, Judiciary State, Labour Department, Education and Law Department, etc. Politicians, media personnel, people with high stake holdings and expertise on the subject, Professors and Head of the Departments of Colleges and Universities. The interviews had a mix of high level to middle level officials especially those who interfaced with general public like Protection Officers, Women’s cell, Probation Officers, etc. Seminars and Consultations The research study organized one seminar at each district, and one consultation at the state level. District and state level dignitaries were invited where primary research findings were presented and discussion/ recommendations were sought. The main reason for sharing the findings with those who weren’t incorporated in the target groups was to develop a participatory approach. The seminars included middle level people and consultatory dignitaries including high-level government representatives. Feedback was taken to develop a consensus of the findings and include recommendations done by a Rapporteur who documented the feedback from each district. Exposure Trips The research study also conducted exposure trips for rural women who were playing an important role within the communities and were in a position to take leadership advocacy rolesin the communities and carry forward the objectives of the research. One exposure trip for each district comprising of 5 women representatives was organized, that is, totally 25 women. The exposure trips conducted in three phases due to the difficulty of suitable dates for everyone. The exposure trips were organized to visit a PRI area to understand the functioning and the role women play in it. This helped the participants analyze their schedule areas, contributing to cross- learning for use in activating the women’s roles in their own areas. Interaction with government representatives and other organizations who acted as support services was also facilitated. Towards the end of the trip, feedback was taken in the form of a questionnaire. Secondary Data Secondary data was collected from various sources. The research study looked at records of government departments that had data on various aspects of access to justice for women. Data was also collected from universities, colleges, newspapers, magazines and journals. Customary laws on topics regarding women and their access to justice in each district were reviewed. A comparative analysis between these customary laws and Indian statutory laws wasdrawn for an understanding of the differential status of women’s access to justice. 20
  20. 20. Design of the Report The entire report is broken down into five district wise reports. Each district report begins with an introduction of the state, its history, geographic and demographic features, moving on to the understanding of women’s status and rights, women's participation in Governance and Judiciary, violence against women and women's access to justice for the crimes they may have exper ienced. The report ends with conclusions which also highlight key findings and provide recommendations to help the state improve women’s rights and create a gender sensitive equitable society. Data Analysis After the data was collected, it was verified, processed and presented in tables and graphs to facilitate data analysis and interpretations. The primary data was carried out keeping in mind the overall perspective of the research study and by comparing, correlating, wherever needed. Efforts were made to integrate the data received from all different categories of instrument. Duration of the Study The study was conducted between August 1 st and November 30 th , 2012. Limitations The study was conducted in districts already identified by the NMEW and DoJ. It was originally intended to also be conducted in two districts of Assam: Chirang and Kokrajhar. However, due to ethnic violence in these areas, the study could not proceed forward there given the short duration of the study. It is understood that the findings from the identified districts is merely indicative of the district and cannot be taken as a reflection of the situation in the entire state. This is because of the multiple tribes in the states that vary from district to district. Hence, findings from one district may not necessarily apply to another. This study can be best viewed as a rapid assessment to understand if a mismatch exists in women’s ability to access justice in these non-panchayati raj areas in the absence of reservation for them. Depending on the findings, a more detailed study is required to properly appreciate the issue for a state-wide reflection. Also, athough the study and this report is designed to cover 5 districts, no comparative analysis between the districts can be undertaken on the same rationale stated above. During interviews by the research team, phrases such as “mainland”, “parallel courts” etc. did come up in people’s conversation being the normal way in which they refer to their tribal bodies and distinguish the same from usual structures in states with panchayati raj. This should not be taken in any manner to detract from the legitimacy of the Indian Government, Indian Courts and the Constitution of India and their application over the northeastern states. 21
  21. 21. District Wise Reports: Nagaland – District Kohima Consultation meeting held in Nagalandon 9 TH November 2012 22
  22. 22. INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY A. Introduction of the Respondent Group The primary data collection was conducted in Kohima, the capital of Nagaland in 7 th -25 th August 2012. Respondents of Close-Ended Questionnaire There were 70 respondents to the close-ended questionnaire. Of those, 38 (54%) were women and 32 (46%) were men. The participants were selected based on occupation with a focus on lawyers, entrepreneurs, engineers, NGO-workers, teachers, police, media personnel, government employees, church workers, nurses and doctors. Occupation Female Male Total Respondents Lawyer 2 3 5 Enterpreneur 8 1 9 Engineer 2 4 6 NGO-worker 2 3 5 Teacher 7 2 9 University Scholar 0 1 1 Police 0 5 5 Media personnel 5 1 6 Government employee 5 6 11 Church Worker 3 4 7 Nurse 2 0 2 Doctor 2 2 4 Total 38 32 70 Total in% 54 % 46 % 100 % 40 (57%) respondents were between 26-35 years. 61 (87%) respondents were less than 46 years old. The larger number of younger respondents was not by design. The young age of the respondents may be partly explained by their willingness to participate in the research. Also, many of the professions targeted are relatively new in Nagaland and generally require higher education, of which the younger generations have had better access. Age Respondents % Under 25 8 11 % 26-35 40 57 % 36-45 13 19 % 46-55 5 7 % 56-65 4 6 % over 65 0 0 % Total 70 100 % Table 1. Age disaggregation of the respondents 23
  23. 23. Education Level Respondents % 12th Passed 1 1 % Graduate 32 46 % Post-Graduate and Above 37 53 % Total 70 100 % Table 2. Educational Level of the Respondents for close-ended questionnaire 39 (57%) of the respondents were single and 30 (43%) were married. One respondent did not disclose her marital status. The large number of young respondents with higher education meant that most of them were single. Marital Status Respondents % Single 39 57 % Married 30 43 % Divorced 0 0 % No Response 1 1 % Total 70 100 % Table 3. Maritalstatus of respondents Respondents of Focused Group Discussions 11 Focused Group Discussions (FGD) were conducted with 6 groups of women and 5 groups of men. The size of the groups varied from 7 to 15 participants separated into groups of adult women and men, students, non-tribal and women and men over 60 years old. In total, 127 people participated in the FGD, 66 (52%) women and 61 (48%) men. Participants in the FGD were selected based on a lack of higher education, with the exception of the groups of female and male undergraduate students. FocusedGroup Discussion Participants % 8 Adult Women 12 27 % 14 Women over 60 Years 7 6 % Non-tribal Women 12 9 % Female Graduate Students 13 10 % Adult Men 8 14 % 10 Men over 60 Years 15 12 % Male Graduate Students 15 12 % Non-tribal Men 13 10 % Gender Disaggregation Female 66 52 % Male 61 48 % Total 127 100 % Table 4. FGD, group division and Gender disaggregation 24
  24. 24. In-depth Interviews In-depth interviewees were selected according to their professional position, 13 interviewees were women and 14 men. In-depth Interviewee Gender Date 1. Media Personnel Male 8.8.2012 2. State Women's Commission Female 9.8.2012 3. NGO Director Female 9.8.2012 4. Seniormost Psychiatric Male 9.8.2012 5. Extra Assistant Commissioner Female 10.8.2012 6. Women's Organization Female 10.8.2012 7. IndividualActivist Female 10.8.2012 8. Magistrate Female 11.8.2012 9. Church Leader Male 11.8.2012 10. Public Prosecutor Male 13.8.2012 11. Deputy Inspector General of Police Male 13.8.2012 12. Magistrate Male 13.8.2012 13. Women Secretary, Church Council Female 14.8.2012 14. Commissioner, IAS Female 14.8.2012 15. Social Welfare Department Female 16.8.2012 16. Election Department Female 16.8.2012 17. Student Union Leader Male 16.8.2012 18. Social Welfare Department Male 17.8.2012 19. State AIDS Control Society Female 18.8.2012 20. Home Secretary Female 21.8.2012 21. Labour and Employment Department Male 21.8.2012 22. Customary Court Males 22.8.2012 23. Women Development Department Female 22.8.2012 24. Higher Education Department Male 23.8.2012 25. Home Secretary Male 24.8.2012 26. Health and Family Department Male 24.8.2012 27. Commissioner, IAS Male 25.8.2012 B. Introduction to the State of Nagaland Post-colonial India created the state of Nagaland in 1963. Located in the extreme northeastern region, the state has common boundaries with Myanmar in the East, Assam in the West, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in the North and Manipur in the South. The state covers an area of 16,579 square kilometers, comprised of 11 administrative districts with 52 blocks and 1286 villages inhabited by a population of approximately 2 million. The landscape is made up of forests, mountains, valleys and rivers. The altitude varies from 200 meters in the plains to 3,840 meters in the mountains. 1 1 Government of Nagaland, http://nagaland.nic.in/profile/history/about.htm 25
  25. 25. The ancestors of present day Nagaland citizens migrated over many years from Mongolia, China, Myanmar and Thailand. Before the 19th century, Naga villages were sovereign republics. Contact with the outside world was minimal, limited to brutal inter-village wars and head-hunting practices. In the early 19th century, the arrival of the British paved way for a gradual opening of the village walls and Naga tribes began interacting with each other. The presence of British and Christian missionaries modified traditional governance, culture and social practices. These outsiders brought written script and education, while forming associations and shaping tribal identity. 2 After colonization, the region fell under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Assam and was designated a ‘centrally administered area.’ Because of civil unrest and the fear of a popular uprising, the federal government created the state of Nagaland – the 16th state of India. 3 Nagas are an indigenous people living in a patriarchal tribal society. There are 17 different tribes divided in various sub-tribes; each of which boasts it’s own language, culture and customs that are passed down orally from generation to generation. Inspite of language and cultural barriers, the Nagas view themselves as brothers and sisters who share the same blood and a common history. 4 Nagaland today is in a state of change. Its borders are open to the influence of the outside world, resulting in frequent clashes with the values of previous generations. 5 1,980,602 Population Male 1,025,707 Female 954,895 Area 16,579 km 2 Capital Kohima Kohima, Dimapur, Mokokchung, Tuensang,Mon, Districts Wokah, Phek, Zunheboto, Peren, Kiphire, and Longleng Average Rainfall 2,500mm Highest Peak Saramati in kiphire District (3,840 meters above Mean Sea Level) Main Rivers Dhansari, Doyang, Dikhu, Melak, Tizu, and Zungki Literacy Rate 80,11% Table 5. Nagaland at a Glance 6 C. Nagaland & Article 371A Under Article 371 (A), a special provision of the Indian Constitution, Nagaland enjoys special status which ensures that "No Act of Parliament shall apply to Nagaland in relation to religious or social practices of the Nagas, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to the Naga customary law and ownership and transfer of land and its resources.” 7 2 Talitemjen & Lanunungsang (2005) p.10 3 Government of Nagaland, http://nagaland.nic.in/profile/history/about.htm 4 Government of Nagaland, http://nagaland.nic.in/profile/history/about.htm 5 Fernandes, Pereira, Khatso (2005) p. 2 6 Census of India, Provisional Population Total Papers 2 of 2011: Nagaland 7 Article 371A, Constitution of India (1949) 26
  26. 26. It has been commented that Article 371(A) is protecting the traditional customs, sometimes at the expense of development of the state. “--the political class in Nagaland including the pr esent and past regimes, they have been good at picking and choosing, what should come under the protection of Article 371 (A) and what should not. Even the Naga civil society or the various tribal hohos would perhaps acknowledge the utility afforded by this constitutional provision. However the other argument is that Article 371 (A) has hindered the progress of our State and society.” 8 Article 371A has been used against the Lokayukta Bill designed to tackle corruption; the Nagaland Marriage Bill, has been designed to provide proof of a valid marriage in case of divorce or denial of matrimony. The Article was also used to block the 33% reservation for women up to the level of municipal politics. 9 D. Customary Laws in Nagaland Like most tribes in North East India, Nagaland combines allegiance to the formal legal system of the Indian Constitution with adherence to their own tradition or customary law in their civil, social and cultural life. Customary laws are traditional rules to maintain order in the village that can be traced back over centuries. The laws are not codified; they are orally transmitted from generation to generation. 10 Even though there are many commonalities, all the 1286 villages practice their own customary laws; their own traditions, interpretations and customs. 11 Punishment for the crime of rape for example can vary from a nominal fine to a brutal beating and excommunication. This variance makes it a challenge to present the position of customary laws as a whole, when it comes to specific issues. The law also differs within each village according to the circumstances. Customary laws are flexible. Generally there are no fixed penalties or fines- and are determined case by case taking in consideration the financial situation and background of the respondent. 12 Customary laws have a gender dimension and dictate the division of work on the basis of gender and define the civil, political, economic and social rights differing widely for women and men. Customary laws also dictate the consequences and punishments of a wide range of crimes – including those of violence against women. Customary laws represent centuries-old values passed down by ancestors. Even though the society is ever-changing and modernity is altering the traditional mindset - especially in urban areas - the customary laws have remained the same. Hence, Nagas live within the clash of two sets of values. The position of a woman is especially contradictory. It has been commented that traditional customs lack gender sensitivity of modern values and exclude women from public sphere, relegating them to the role of a servant to the husband. 13 8 TheMourung Express, Continuity and Change 9 The Telegraph (2012) 10 Fernandes, Bharali (2008) p. 93-100 11 Pungro (2012) 12 In-depth Interviews; Customary Court and Individual Activist, Government Officials 9.8-25.8.2012 13 Fernandes, Pereira, Khatso (2005) p. 2-5 27
  27. 27. A general view of these customary laws including examinations of specific issues is presented under respective topics as the findings of the study are presented. E. State Institutions for Women in Nagaland Within the last 10 years, the State Government has taken steps to improve the situation of women in Nagaland by establishing a separate Women Development Department in 2003-2004 and Nagaland State Women Commission in 2006. The new institutions, despite limited resources, have brought more attention to the problems that women face. The Women Development Department, WDD, comes under the Ministry of Women and Child Development and concentrates mostly on the economic empowerment of women. The department is based in Kohima and lacks infrastructure at the district level but it has the power to collaborate with Social Welfare Department when necessary and can rely on Apex Women Organizations to actualize and monitor the programmes. 14 The Nagaland State Women Commission was established in 2007. Its function is to study and raise awareness of women’s issues like promoting empowerment and recommending plans of action to the government. They run awareness and sensitization programmes in all districts. The organization also sets up inquiry committees in cases of violence against women and provides help for the victims. 15 FINDINGS OF THE STUDY (PRIMARY AND SECONDARY RESEARCH) A. Women’s Status in Nagaland “Women’s status in Nagaland - it appears beautiful and quite good but it is not.” 16 Naga women are seen to be among the most empowered women in the country, enjoying great personal freedom and a cultural status. They socialize and interact freely with men. However, this relatively high status is not to be confused with equality. When comparing the rights of each gender sector by sector, results show Naga women are far from being equal to Naga men. 17 Nagaland has a patriarchal social structure with a notion of male superiority. 18 Women do not have the right to inherit ancestral land. They are represented politically exclusively by men and the traditional customary laws are created, interpreted and implemented by men. 19 The recognition of Naga customary laws in Article 371 (A) of the Constitution of India has an adverse impact upon the rights of the women. The women-friendly laws enjoyed by the rest of India can be rendered toothless by article 371A; and the customary laws that are gender-insensitive are protected with the force of Constitution. 20 14 Women Development Department (2012) 15 Nagaland State Women Commission 16 In-depth Interview, women organization, 9.8.2012 17 Fernandes, Bharali (2008) p.97, Fernandes, Pereira, Khatso (2001) 18 Jamir (2009) p. 18 19 Indepth-Interview, Individual Activist, 10.8.2012 20 Kikhi & Kikhi (2009) p. 14 28
  28. 28. A.1 Women’s Status Traditionally Men are regarded as superior to women and it is considered an honor to be born as a male-women are burdened with several customary bindings with hardly any privileges. 21 A woman’s domain is within the domestic sphere. She is a homemaker and a family caretaker. Her responsibilities include care of the husband and children, household chores such as cooking, washing and cleaning; invisible work that can often go unappreciated. Women are also deeply involved in agriculture, doing everyday work in the fields. 22 Men’s role traditionally is to protect the women and the village. Because of the need to safeguard the village, men’s role in agriculture is limited to work that requires more physical power. As a result, men’s work is more seasonal. According to tradition, women carried the tools to t he fields and walked in front of the men, so men could protect them in case of danger. 23 Men’s traditional role included attending meetings and making decisions. Women were not allowed to attend these meetings. Women should not go against her husbands. They can express their opinion but the final decision is to be taken by the head of the family, invariably a male. 24 Matrilineal Practices among the Nagas in the Past The studies of Naga communities in the early 19th century give another viewpoint into the traditional patriarchal Naga society. There are suggestions of matrilineal system among some Naga clans. There are a few clans, such as Lhota Tsoboi and Sema Zumoni, who trace their descent to a female ancestress – a fact they today are ashamed to admit. The Ao village Sangtamla was traditionally governed by female elders and the neighboring village Kabza had a female among the village elders. Certain names of the villages and marital practices give indications of matrilineal structure. Nevertheless, the matrilineal practices are currently overlooked and even denied. 25 A.2 Women’s Status Today “Being a patriarchal society, without intentions to do so, we do give preference to the male children.” 26 Over the years women have started to break through their traditionally imposed domestic walls and enter into the public sphere. In the field of education especially girls are excelling. Nevertheless, the traditional customs continue to hold women back. 70 respondents were asked to specify women’s role in Nagaland. 21 Talitemjen Jamir & Lanunungsang (2005) p.220 22 Fernandes, Pereira, Khatso (2005) p. 40-41 23 Talitemjen Jamir & Lanunungsang (2005) p.217 24 Talitemjen Jamir & Lanunungsang (2005) p.216-223 25 Hutton (1912) p. 131-132, Hutton (1965) 26 In-depth Interview, Police Official, 13.8.2012 29
  29. 29. 47 (67%) expressed that women’s role is confined to the domestic sphere, women are subordinate or that women do not enjoy equal rights as men. 10 (14%) do not feel women’s role is confined to the domestic sphere. 10 (14%) respondents did not respond to the question, 3 did not specify the status of women, stating it depends on the family and that women should be a good example to the society. The question put to 70 respondents was “Do men have more authority/power than women?” The respondent group comprised of 32 men and 38 women. 62 (89%) said yes and 8 (11%) said no. Respondent who felt men have more authority/power than women were asked to articulate the type of authority/power men have. 30
  30. 30. 57 (92%) of the 62 respondents specified that the customary laws and traditions gave preference to men, obliging the women to respect men’s superior position and their decisions. 52 (85%) of the 62 respondents thought male dominance is political; men have more political power because women are not allowed to participate- at least not fully - in politics. 41 (66%) of the 62 respondents felt men had more economic control than women. They felt women are not financially independent; they do not have equal property and inheritance rights. Generally men are providers of income to the family, whereas women constitute the major workforce in subsistence agriculture. Therefore, money is often considered to be a manly affair. The traditional mindset is changing as more women are working outside of the family especially in urban areas becoming a source of money income for the family. B. A Woman’s Control over Herself B.1 Women’s Labour Rights Customary Laws and Traditions on Women and Work Traditionally a woman works within the domestic sphere. Customary laws do not prohibit women from having a salaried job but because of household and farming responsibilities, many women do not have enough time to work on top of family obligations. Many women have to leave their jobs after getting married. 27 Women’s Labour Rights Today According to a study conducted in 2001 among Angamis, women made up two thirds of the graduate and post-graduate degree holders among family members but were only 22.16% of those holding salaried jobs. 28 Women are mostly involved in subsistence farming to support the family. While almost half of the women are involved in work outside of the family, only 20% earn cash from this work. 27 In-depth Interview, Government Official, 18.8.2012 28 Fernandes, Pereira, Khatso (2001) 31
  31. 31. Around 14% of women have professional, technical or managerial occupation, which is 6 percentage points more than in average in India. 29 However, only 7.4% of the women have a bank account that they themselves use. 30 Percentage Percentage in Percentage professional/ employed in the earning cash technical/ past 12 months managerial occupations Nagaland 45,9 21,5 13,9 India 43,1 28,5 8 Percentage of women age 15-49 employed in the past 12 months, earning cash, and employed in professional/technical/managerial occupations, NFHS-3 Working women face prejudices. There is gender division regarding the professions and the tasks within each profession. Often the task division is explained by the necessity of physical strength, but in many cases the division is based on stereotype removed from reality. For example, policewomen are not allowed to drive police cars, even if they are experienced drivers. 31 Government is the biggest employer in Nagaland. The private sector is almost non-existent in the state. The extortion money demanded by insurgency groups makes it difficult for private sector to turn a profit discouraging entrepreneurship. The resulting lack of employment oppurtunities for the entire population cause educated people to look for employment opportunities elsewhere. 32 Equal Pay from Equal Work and Maternity Benefit Act Government employees are paid equally regardless of gender but in many other fields women receive less pay for equal work. There are instances where Village Councils decide the salary rates for various work and women’s daily wage is fixed to be Rs. 10-50 less than the men’s for the same job. The reason is the perception that women cannot work as hard as men. The Maternity Benefit Act functions in the Government sector but has not been embraced by the private sector. There is neither proper implementation nor monitoring of the Acts and the awareness level is low. In Nagaland no woman has presented a complaint regarding either Act. 33 Schemes and Programmes Supporting Women’s Employment The Women Development Department supports a sustainable livelihood for women. They run a textile project to promote artisans weaving traditional designs. There are also around 2000 Self Help Groups under the Transformative Livelihood Intervention project, which support groups to produce different commercial products. 29 Kishor & Gupta (2009) p. 52 30 Kishor & Zehol (2009) p. 68 31 In-depth Interview, Police Official, 13.8.2012 32 In-depth Interview, Government Official, 23.8.2012 33 In-depth Interview, Government Official, 23.8.2012 32
  32. 32. The Women Development Department promotes entrepreneurship with 3 different credit programs under the Transformative Livelihood Intervention project the Self Help Groups are entitled to Rs. 25000 loans. The Department decided to offer loans rather than grants, because in Nagala nd people are accustomed to free government money. The hope is that a loan will provide more incentive to work hard. The Department reports a 100% success rate regarding the loan offers. The other 2 credit programmes are for women entrepreneurs, one for women to start their own business and the other for women who want to up-scale their existing business. B.2 Women’s Right to Education Customary Laws and Traditions on Girls’ Education Traditionally girls did not have access to same education as boys since it belonged to the social sphere. A mother taught the girls at home to perform the household duties. 34 Formal education in Nagaland was introduced in the 1880s with the arrival of American missionaries, coinciding almost exactly with the advent of British colonial power. For more than a century only male children were sent to school. Because male children are charged with continuing the family line, it became more important for sons to be educated than daughters. 35 Women’s Rights to Education Today “Being a patriarchal society, without intentions to do so, we do give preference to the male children” 36 Girls’ education has been improved over the years and financially sustainable families provide their daughters an equal opportunity regarding their education. The Department of School Education promotes literacy in Nagaland and has enjoyed some success; the literacy rate has climbed to 80.11%. 37 In the primary school level, the enrollment rate of girls is slightly lower than it is for boys. The dropout rate for girls is higher than boys’. The higher dropout rate may be attributed to the fact that girls are traditionally burdened with farming and household works. This may also contribute to the difference in literacy between genders. 38 Literacy Rate In Nagaland 80,11 % Male 83,29 % Female 76,69 % Literacy Rate in Nagaland. In Nagaland there are 1924 primary and secondary Government schools. There are also private schools and institutions as well as 115 schools of different levels run by Baptist churches. Government Primary Schools 1459 Government Middle Schools 340 Government High Schools 109 34 Fernandes, Pereira, Khatso (2005) p. 199 35 In-depth Interview, Lawyer, 9.8.2012 36 In-Depth Interview, Police Official, 13.8.2012 37 Census of India, 2011 38 Department of School Education, Government of Nagaland, In-depth Interview, Individual Activist, 10.8.2012 33
  33. 33. Government Higher Secondary Schools 16 Number of Government Schools in Primary and Secondary Level in Nagaland. In 2011-2012, 1083 more boys than girls began higher education studies in Nagaland, 458 more in Government Colleges and 625 in Private Colleges. 39 Academic year Boys Girls Total 2007-08 4097 2918 7,015 2008-09 4072 3165 7,237 2009-10 4813 3964 8,777 2010-11 4726 4089 8,815 2011-12 4581 4123 8,704 Student’s Enrollment in Government Colleges. Academic year Boys Girls Total 2007-08 9278 8720 17,998 2008-09 9230 8913 18,143 2009-10 10,282 9617 19,899 2010-2011 10,723 10,084 20,807 2011-2012 10,761 10,136 20,897 Student’s Enrollment in Private Colleges. In Nagaland, education has a stronger correlation to family’s income than average in India. In the lower levels only 1.5% of females and 0.3% of males have at least 10 years of education, while in the wealthiest quintile the rates are 66.1% and 75.5% respectively. The education level in Nagaland is some percentage points lower than the average in India. 40 Percentage of women and men age 20-49 who have at least 10 years of education by wealth quintile, NFHS-3, India Percentage of women 20-49 with 10+ years of education Wealth Quintile Lowest Second Middle Fourth Highest Total Nagaland 1,5 1,4 8 29,6 66,1 22,7 India 1,1 3,2 9,9 24,7 61,6 24,4 Percentage of men 20-49 with 10+ years of education Wealth Quintile Lowest Second Middle Fourth Highest Total Nagaland 0,3 6,7 19,7 42,3 75,1 31,4 India 5,9 13,4 24,9 43,1 73,5 36,6 Percentage of women and men age 20-49 who have at least 10 years of education by wealth quintile, by state, NFHS-3, India Government schools in Nagaland are not totally free but the tuition is only a fraction of that paid in private schools. The quality of education however, is questioned by society: “ The government also admits that their schools are a failure.” 41 39 Department of Higher Education, Government of Nagaland 40 Kishor & Gupta (2009) p. 29 41 In-depth Interview, Church Worker, 11.8.2012 34
  34. 34. Among the Naga students, a degree on Education is among the least popular study programmes. Teacher’s salaries are rather low and as a result it can be difficult to find competent teachers who wish to stay and teach in the rural areas. Currently both School and Higher Education Departments are focusing on improving the quality of education. 42 People’s Perception on Women’s Education in Nagalan dhave 70 respondents were questioned “How has the women’s rights to education changed in he last 10 years?” 66 (94%) said that women’s right to education has improved.4 (6%) did not answer the question. No respondent said women’s right to education had decreased in the past 10 years. 31 (44%) respondents specified that girls have currently an equal opportunity as boys toeducation. Schemes and Programmes for women in education and vocational training Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) scheme’s vision includes reducing the gender gap in education. The scheme offers a Special Stipend for girls. In the elementary level, class 6 to 8, there are currently 1965 beneficiaries and in the secondary leve l, class 9 to 10, there are 858 beneficiaries. There is also another programme that covers 100% education costs for 161 girls and still counting, it is called: Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education. There is also a Post-Matric Scholarship for students belonging to minority communities with 30% of its funds earmarked for girls. 43 Because of the lack of opportunities in Nagaland, the Department of Higher Education has programmes to sponsor students to go to New Delhi to get vocational training in programmes such as beauty, spa therapy as well as hair and nail treatments. The government annually sponsors 75% of the studies for around 500 students. Most of these students remain back in the bigger cities in India upon completion of their studies. 44 42 In-depth Interview, Government Official, 17.8.2012 43 Department of School Education, Government of Nagaland 44 Department of Higher Education, Government of Nagaland 35
  35. 35. In Kohima, the Women Development Department offers vocational training for women, especially targeting school dropouts and single mothers. Skills taught include weaving, knitting and tailoring, the training lasting 10 months. The students are given a stipend of Rs. 600 per month. Every year about 70 students take part in the training. More centers are under construction in other districts. 45 B.3 Women’s Right to Health “The primary health centers in all districts are ba dly understaffed, doctors do not want to live in the villages, there is a poor infrastructure and the health facilities do not meet the necessary criteria.” 46 The network of health institutions throughout the State consist of 11 District Hospitals, 21 Community Health Centers (CHCs), 86 Primary Health Centers (PHCs), 397 Sub-Centers (SCs), 2 Tuberculosis (TB) Hospitals, 1 Mental Hospital and the Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) –as the State Referral Hospital. 47 According to a 2005 study, Nagaland has less than 500 doctors, including 98 specialists, to serve a population of 2 million. 48 Students have to go outside of Nagaland to study medicine and only a portion return to work and of those who return only a small fraction are willing to work in rural areas, where the need for doctors is high. 49 Private hospitals are generally well reviewed but are not a viable option for most of the people. Private hospitals are found only in urban areas and the payment involved is too high for most. 50 Family planning services for women The government has made a concerted effort to provide family planning services in Nagaland. There are no traditional or religious restrictions on family planning. In the patriarchal society, where only males carry the clan name and hold inheritance rights, male children are always given preference. Often couples keep trying until they get a male heir, which can lead to larger families.According to the State Human Development Report 2004 the total fertility rate (TFR) in Nagaland was 3.77. The NFHS-3 (2005-06) shows a slightly lower figure of 3.74. The District Human Development Report 2009 does not present any figures on the matter because the statistics were “either unavailable or unreliable”. Family planning services are provided in private and government hospitals as well as in health centers at the village level. According to DLHS -2 from 2002-2004, female sterilization is the most widely known (67%) of all contraceptive methods, followed by pills (41%) and condoms (41%). Male sterilization was known to only 32% of the respondents. 45 Women Development Department, Nagaland 46 In-depth Interview, Individual Activist, 10.8.2012 47 Menukhol; Longkumer & Kejong (2011) p. 3 48 Goswami (2005) 49 In-depth Interview, Government Official, 24.8.2012 50 In-depth Interview, Government Official, 24.8.2012 36
  36. 36. According to the same study in Nagaland a total of 34 percent women are found to have had an unmet need for family planning, 15 percent for limiting the number of children and 19 percent for spacing between the children. The total unmet need varies from as low as nine percent in Zunheboto to a high 68 percent in Tuensang. Unfortunately, there are no recent statistics available. 70 respondents were asked: “Are you aware of family planning services?” 42 (60%) said yes, 17 (24%) said no. 1 (1%) did not answer the question and 27 (38%) said someone from their family had used such a service. 127 respondents were questioned: “Is it easier toda y for women to decide how many children they wish to have?” Of the respondents 66 (52%) wer e women and 61 (48%) were men. 19 (29%) women respondents said it has become easier for women to decide the number of children. 34 (51%) women said it is a joint decision with the husband. 13 (20%) women stated that men still had the final word. The same question was asked of 61 male respondents. (Change needed in the graph lanaguage) 37
  37. 37. 25 (41%) said it has not become easier because men still decide or at least have the final word; 15 (25%) said it had become easier for women to decide the number of children they wish to have. 8 (13%) respondents said it was a joint decision with the husband. 15 (25%) men and graduate students were inclined toward agreeing but said they lacked the experience to respond. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) India 2005-06, Nagaland has natural sex ratio at birth for births in past five years of 945. Sex ratio at birth for all last births to women aged 15-49 is 938. 51 Abortion clinics are available in all 11 districts but they remain underutilized because of privacy issues. Abortion might bring shame to the woman and her family. The woman may carry the stigma for the rest of her life. Therefore, many women choose to go out of state for an abortion and if they do not have resources to do- so they often resort to a risky ‘back-alley’ abortion. 52 Even though a male child is given preference, the daughters are not a burden for families because of the absence of dowry practices along with the common practice of bride-money among many tribes. Only 4 out of 197 respondents said there are instances of sex-selective abortions in Nagaland. Commercial Sex Work and HIV/AIDS Nagaland is listed as one of the six HIV/AIDS prevalent states in India. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) 2005-06, India was not able to give a proper estimate of HIV prevalence in Nagaland due to a strong local opposition to the collection of blood samples due to support for Naga sovereignity and its underlying notion of “common blood”. 53 According to the AIDS Case Surveillance and ART report, out of the 3,933 cases 2,141 were male and 1,792 female. Dimapur is a growing commercial sex center in North East India, which explains the increasing rate of HIV/AIDS in Nagaland. Dimapur is a connecting point for highways in North East India. Increasing business activities and the reputation for sex trade bringing clients from different states of North East India. Clients are mostly businessmen and truck drivers, but it is also a common practice for Assamese male students to travel to Dimapur to get sexual experience. 54 Maternal Health Regarding the maternal mortality rate (MMR), according to the State Human Development Report 2004 the State’s figure is less than 1 death 1000 live births. 55 The same year the State Communalization Committee’s report of Basic Health Survey states that MMR in Nagaland is 8 per 1000 live births; Kiphire district 33/1000, Dimapur and Longleng 13/1000, Peren 12/1000, Phek 10/1000, Kohima 8/1000, Mon 4.27/1000, Wokha 3.48/1000, Mokokchung 0.7/1000 while 51 Kishor & Gupta (2009) p. 18 52 Interview with Government Official, 22.8.2012 53 Naga nationalistic aspirations and Naga sovereignty –movements are supporting their objective with th e ”common blood” of Naga people. As Naga people transcend from different tribes coming from different back grounds, the blood sampling might obstacle their aim to unite the Naga people 54 In-depth Interview, Government Official, Health Professional, 18.8.2012 55 http://planningcommission.nic.in/plans/stateplan/sdr_pdf/shdr_Naga04.pdf 38
  38. 38. Zunheboto district had no recorded cases of maternal mortality. 56 The District Human Development Report 2009 does not present any figures on the matter because the statistics are “either unavailable or unreliable”. This is still t he case in 2012. The Government explains the lack of records due to the fact that in rural areas women are still having deliveries of babies in their homes rather than going to an institutional labour room. Schemes to Support Maternal Health and Institutional Delivery Institutional delivery in Nagaland is among the lowest in the country with a figure of 12 percent. 57 IGMSY (Indira Gandhi Matitva Sayokh Yojana) covers only Kohima District. It is a conditional maternity benefit scheme bascially for pregnant and lactating women introduced in 2010. Under this scheme women get Rs. 4000; Rs. 1500 during registration and the remaining amount after delivery. JSY (Janani Suraksha Yojana) specifically promotes institutional delivery in all of Nagaland. If the delivery is done in the health centre the mother receives Rs. 700 and the person who brings her to the health center is given Rs. 600. 58 There has been criticism of the programs by those who argue that while on paper everyone has received the money, in reality mothers are often either not paid on time, paid a pittance or not paid at all. When this was brought to the attention of the public the Department started paying mothers two or three years after the delivery but still a majority of the women never received the money. There are reports that mothers who are paid more for male children. There is one report of a mother who was paid Rs 500 for a baby boy while another who had a girl child received only Rs 300 later on the same day. 59 C. Women’s Control within Family The default position is reflected in this statement. Although the father is the head of the family the mother is typically as involved in the family’s upkeep although without the authority. 60 C.1 Women’s Role in the Family Women’s Duties in the Family 127 participants of Focused Group Discussions were asked: “What do you think are women’s roles and responsibilities in the family? What are the household tasks women should do?” Women’s duties were listed as:  Take care of the household; clean, wash and cook   Take care of children and educate them   Work on the fields, fetch water and firewood   Support husband to be a good leader  56 State Communalization Committee; Department of Health and Welfare, Govt.of Nagaland, Basic Health Profile of Villages In Nagaland, 2004 57 National Family and health Survey (NFhS-3). 58 Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Nagaland, Annual Administrative Report 2011-2012 59 North East Network (2011) 60 Zehol & Zehol (1998) p. 80 39
  39. 39.  Be socially acceptable  The 127 participants were asked, “Should women and men share the household work?” 85 (67%) said yes and 42 (33%) said no. The respondents who answered in the affirmative included 52 (79%) women and 33 (54%) men. 14 (21%) women and 28 (46%) men stated that household work is the duty of the wife. Women and Decision Making in the Family The question put to 70 respondents was “Who takes d ecisions on assets (house, car, land) in the family?” 37 (53%) said decisions were made exclusively by the father/husband and 3 (4%) said exclusively by the mother/wife. 28 (40%) said the decisions on assets were taken jointly by father and mother. 1 respondent specified that the father still had the final word. 2 (3%) said the decision was taken by the elders of the family. The question to 70 respondents was “Who takes decis ion on children’s education?” 40
  40. 40. 11 (16%) said it was made exclusively by the father/husband and 2 (3%) said exclusively by the mother/wife. 45 (64%) said the decisions regarding children’s education were made jointly by father and mother. 3 (4%) said the decision was taken exclusively by the elders of the family and 2 (3%) said exclusively by the children themselves. 1 respondent said the decision was taken jointly by parents and elders, 1 said jointly by father and children and 1 respondent said by elders and children. 3 (4%) did not respond to the question. The question to 70 respondents was “Who takes decis ions on household expenditure?” 4 (6%) said exclusively by the father/husband and 33 (47%) said exclusively by the mother/wife. 29 (41%) said the decisions on household expenditure was taken jointly by father and mother. 2 (3%) said daily decisions were taken exclusively by the elders and 2 respondents said jointly by parents and elders. The question to 70 respondents was “Who takes daily decisions in the family?” 41
  41. 41. 1 (1%) said exclusively by the father/husband and 40 (57%) said exclusively by the mother/wife. 25 (36%) said the decisions on children’s education is taken jointly by father and mother. 2 (3%) said daily decisions were taken exclusively by the elders and 2 respondents said jointly by parents and elders. C.2 Women’s Property and Inheritance Rights “Husband’s property comes from wife’s labour.” 61 Land and forest are the major economic resources for most of the Naga people. Families and communities depend on the land they cultivate. Women form the greater part of the workforce in the agricultural sector but generally they do not have the right to own the land they cultivate. 62 Naga tribes follow male dominant customary laws on inheritance and propriety rights, which create gender biases with numerous inequalities. Women have only indirect rights to use the land via their husband or father. Women also have limited or no access to external inputs such as fertilizers and credit. 63 Only 7.4% of women in Nagaland have a bank account that they use themselves, which is the lowest percentage in all of India. 64 Customary Laws on Women’s Property and Inheritance Rights Property in Nagaland can be ancestral, acquired or gifted. Only men can inherit and control ancestral land and immovable property. Acquired and gifted property can be given either to sons or daughters, but it is more commonly given to the former and the gifted land for daughters is often marginal. 65 Women are gifted usually only a share of the movable property, jewellery, utensils, clothes, baskets and other tools of work. 66 61 Kikhi & Kikhi (2009) p. 64 62 Fernandes, Pareira, Khatso (2001) 63 Kikhi & Kikhi (2009) p.10 64 Kishor & Gupta (2009) p. 68 65 Kikhi & Kikhi (2009) p. 64 66 Fernandes, Pereira, Khatso (2005) 42
  42. 42. Some tribes practice a custom, which allows women to possess ancestral immovable property during her lifetime, but upon her death the property goes to the closest male relative. In an exception to other tribes, the Kheja tribe practices a tradition that a woman inherits the property of her grandmother. 67 Women have weaker property and inheritance rights because they will share the property of their husband and also because of the risk of a clan losing the property. The children belong to the clan of their father, therefore inheriting land from the mother’s side means that the land will change hands from the original ancestral line. 68 In the event that there are no male heirs, the property goes to the nearest male relative. The general rule is that the widow can stay in the house for the rest of her lifetime and the daughters till they get married. If the widow is childless, she does not have the right to stay in the house. Even women with a financially sound background can be economically at risk without independent resources in case of widowhood or a divorce. In a divorce women do not get equal compensation and lose custody of male children. In the Angami tradition if it is determined the woman is the reason for the divorce she needs to walk out of the house wearing only her underwear. In Sema tradition, if the husband is found to be at fault, the woman has a right to demand one third of the movable property acquired during the marriage as compensation. 69 Ultimately, the family decides who they want to gift their property. However if the daughters inherit the property, the male heirs can take the matter to court as they have the customary law on their side. “A Naga widow, a trained nurse with two daughters w as able to acquire landed property during her long career in Government service. After her retirement, she made an affidavit dividing her assets and savings between her two daughters and transferred the title to them immediately because she was afraid that if she did not do this during her lifetime, her husband’s male siblings and sons would manifest its tentacles with the blessing of customary laws and contest the will. Exactly, what she dreaded most would happen after her death, instantly happened as soon as news of the affidavit reached the husband’s clan men. The men went to court, citing customary laws, which prohibited inheritance of any landed property by women and girls. After a serious debate in the court, the widow could prove that she did not inherit those assets from her late husband but rather ‘earned’ them through sheer hard labour over which the clan had no right and she won the case.” 70 People’s attitudes for Women’s Property Rights “Most women we feel discriminated. We feel disheart ened by knowing the fact that we don’t have any property rights. But for me, as far as that ancestral property goes, as long as the law is there we have to abide by that. We cannot rebel against that.” 71 67 In-depth Interview, Government official, 16.8.2012 68 In-depth Interview, Government Official, 18.8.2012 69 Fernandes, Pereira, Khatso (2005) 70 Kikhi & Kikhi (2009) p. 15; Newspaper Report, Nagaland Page, Dimapur, September 23rd, 2005 71 In-depth Interview, Judge, 11.8.2012 43
  43. 43. 70 respondents were asked to identify whether women had equal property rights. When asked about traditional property rights 65 (93%) said there are unequal property and inheritance rights for women in Naga society. 2 (3%) stated the property is equally shared among all the children. 2 (3%) respondents did not characterize the current situation but stated that the current situation should be maintained. 1 (1%) did not respond to the question. The question to 70 respondents was “How do you feel about the traditional property and inheritance rights?” 49 (70%) said they were against the traditional property distribution. They feel that women should have equal property rights or at least a share of the property in exceptional cases. 15 (21%) said traditional practices should be maintained. 6 (9%) did not disclose their position. The 70 respondents consisted of 38 females and 32 males. 44
  44. 44. Gender disaggregation of opinion on traditional property and inheritance rights results were 30 (79%) women and 19 (60 %) men responding against traditional practices. 4 (11%) women and 11 (34%) men said the traditional practices should be maintained. 4 (11%) women and 2 (6%) men did not answer the question. C.3 Women’s Rights in Marriage Customary Laws and Traditions on Marriage In marriage women are to support and respect the husband who is the protector of the family. Customary laws forbid marriage among the same clan and between certain clans; any couple going against this tradition is not only fined but also banished from the village. 72 One exception is the Konyak-tribe chiefs who are considered to be so sacred that their first wife should be a woman from the same clan. 73 There are both monogamous and polygamous traditions. For example the Sema and the Lotha are polygamous. A Sema man can have 5-7 wives; although the marriage is in some ways similar to a purchase, women do have a right to veto. The bride-price depends on how hardworking and skillful the woman is. 74 The first wife has an authority over the younger wives and she may also decide with whom the husband will spend the night. In practice, only financially-sound men can afford to marry many wives. The Lotha men can have up to three wives. The bride-price is high and women do not have the freedom of choice. A husband may allow his brothers or nearest relative on his father's side to have conjugal access to his wife when he is absent for any length of time. 75 According to the tradition of Khemnugan tribe a man can kidnap a girl whom he likes and marry her. 76 72 Jamir (1997) p. 65 73 WebIndia123 (2000) 74 Hutton )1912) p. 184-185 75 Hutton (1965) 76 Raatan (2009) p. 105 45

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