Friday December 13, 2019

Know Why Women Of “Apatanis tribe” Harm Their Faces: Arunachal Pradesh

The Apatanis women are believed to be the exceptional beauty in Arunachal Pradesh.  With their beauty, arrived a danger of theft of apatanis women by neighboring tribes.

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Apatani Tribal Women. Wikimedia

Arunachal Pradesh, July 1, 2017: India is a land of many tribes which forms its rich cultural heritage. One such tribe is Apatanis also known as Tanw, which lives in Ziro valley in the Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh in India.

This tribe is famous for their colorful culture with various festivals, vibrant traditional village councils detailed and complex handloom designs and cane and bamboo crafts skill. They reside in very basic bamboo huts resting on top of vertical wooden stilts.  The Apatanis worships nature by praying sun and moon. Apatanis are also known for their distinctive way of sustainable farming and social forestry.

The Apatanis women are believed to be the exceptional beauty in Arunachal Pradesh.  With their beauty, arrived a danger of theft of apatanis women by neighboring tribes.

Majority of women on the earth are considered to be delicate pieces of physical beauty. The outer beauty is not seen as a blessing of god but the parameter on which the girl is admired, adorned or loved. No matter, how beautiful a woman is but the beautiful looks always wins in captivating the eye. People are more tempted by what they see than what they feel.

Beauty is a positive term that is why it attracts people. Especially, if we talk of outer beauty, the desire of it makes people cross their limits and restore to wrong practices.

Rape, sexual assault, kidnapping and forceful marriage are some examples of these wrongful deeds. A lady finds variety of ways to protect herself from the cruel world. Some learn self defense, some keep weapons, some don’t go out alone in night, some keep pepper spray and  some employ special bodyguards to  save themselves.

But, these tribal women found the solution in killing the root of the problem itself. Their pretty faces were very appealing to the neighbor tribes which lead to kidnapping of these women.

They altered their faces by inserting huge nose plugs and tattooing their faces in order to safeguard their lives. Their decision showed their bravery of letting go their outer beauty.  They preferred a life without beauty instead of physical beauty because their life was very much more than physical beauty to them.

The older women of tribe can still be spotted with inked faces and nose plugs. The further inserting of nose plugs and inking of faces have been banned by government.

The beauty they portrayed by disregarding their face appearance was beyond words. But on the other hand, hurting oneself just for getting secured is not a good choice. Will you spoil your face by the fear of getting raped; will you hurt yourself so much and make your outer skin ugly to protect yourselves from all the evil crimes of outer beauty?

– by Surbhi Dhawan. Twitter @surbhi_dhawan

 

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Manjari Lights an Issue of Patriarchy in Tribal Areas of Himachal Pradesh

The literacy rate in the district is 80.77 per cent - 88.37 for males and 71.34 for females - for a population of 84,298

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tribal areas, patriarchy
This is a Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh. Wikimedia

The fair sex is not getting a fair deal in tribal areas of Himachal Pradesh – but Rattan Manjari will have none of this.

She is the chairperson of the Mahila Kalyan Parishad, a rights group based in Kinnaur district, that campaigns on educating women about their right to ancestral property.

The rights group, in association of “mahila mandals” or women’s groups, has also carried out campaigns demanding the amendment of the customary laws.

“With the passage of time, if people in tribal areas can leave behind other customs and became modernised, then why can’t they leave this male-centric tradition (on ancestral property) that is largely responsible for their wallowing in misery with nobody to look after them,” asked the 66-year-old Manjari, who is also an apple grower in Ribba village, some 250 km from state capital of Shimla.

“We want to give a dignified life to the women, particularly spinsters and widows, in our society. For this, we are again moving the high court to get relief from this patriarchal law,” she said of her nearly three-decade struggle to get women a share in ancestry property.

Tribal areas, patriarchy
The rights group, in association of “mahila mandals” or women’s groups, has also carried out campaigns demanding the amendment of the customary laws. Wikimedia

Women in Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Chamba districts are bound by a century-old patriarchal law that allows only men to inherit ancestral property, if not bequeathed.

The still-prevalent Wajib Ul Urj customary law, which came into existence in 1926, bars even widows from inheriting their husband’s property, which is transferred to the sons.

According to 2011 Census figures, the gender ratio in Kinnaur has gone down from 857 in 2001 to 818 in 2011. It is ranked the lowest in the state.

The literacy rate in the district is 80.77 per cent – 88.37 for males and 71.34 for females – for a population of 84,298.

With the help of hundreds of activists in over 170 women groups in the district, Manjari has been organising panchayat meetings and signature campaigns to get the law overturned.

In June 2015, a Himachal Pradesh High Court ruling gave land inheritance rights to the tribal women. This was challenged and the matter is pending in the Supreme Court.

“The daughters in the tribal areas shall inherit property in accordance with the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 and not as per customs. This is in order to prevent women from facing social injustice and all forms of exploitation,” Justice Rajiv Sharma of the high court had said.

tribes, patriarchy
Women in Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Chamba districts are bound by a century-old patriarchal law that allows only men to inherit ancestral property, if not bequeathed. Wikimedia

He had upheld an order passed by the district judge of Chamba in 2002 to grant legal property rights to women.

Old-timers believe the origin of the custom-made tradition is the scarcity of fertile land. Giving inheritance rights to women would give an opportunity to outsiders to become owners of the land if they married outside the community, it was believed.

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“After taking legal opinion, we filed a PIL (public interest litigation) last month in the high court pertaining to the right to inherit the property by daughters under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956,” she said.

Manjari added: “The number of widows and orphaned unmarried women is increasing. It’s high time this patriarchal practice is brought to an end.” (IANS)