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Khasi district council draws flak for Bill on tribal women

By The Assam Tribune
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SHILLONG, July 27 - A Bill passed recently by Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) to �protect the lineage and indigenousness� of its tribe has come in the eye of a storm, with several women�s organisations today voicing their opposition to its provisions.

On July 25, Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) � one of the three self-governing bodies in Meghalaya � passed a legislation that aims to strip a Khasi woman of her tribal status once she marries an outsider.

The legislation, if approved by the Governor, will be applicable in West Khasi Hills, East Khasi Hills and Ri Bhoi � the districts that come under the purview of KHADC.

Terming the Bill �insensitive�, Meghalaya State Women�s Commission chairperson Theilin Phanbuh today said the Council should have arranged for a public debate on the matter before tabling the Bill.

�The Bill is gender-biased as it talks only about women. What about men who chose to marry a non-tribal wife? This is a sensitive issue,� she said.

Echoing similar sentiments, Agnes Kharshiing, the president of a civil society organisation, said marriage is a fundamental right of every person and KHADC move is aimed at �ostracising� women.

�Does this Bill stand the legal tests? I have a serious doubt about it,� she said.

Several women�s organisations here have also threatened to move court against the Bill.

Defending the Bill, KHADC chief executive member HS Shylla said the move is aimed at protecting their lineage. �It would go a long way in preserving the traditional matrilineal system of society.�

�Those opposing the move hail from urban areas. In the tribal belts, organisations, including Khasi Students Union(KSU), have come out in support of the Bill,� he added.

DV Thabah, KSU president, said �We welcome the Bill. It is important to curtail the influx of outsiders, who marry tribal women for the sake of owning land and doing business here.�

According to the 2011 Census, around 1.4 million Khasis reside in Meghalaya. � PTI

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Khasi district council draws flak for Bill on tribal women

SHILLONG, July 27 - A Bill passed recently by Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) to �protect the lineage and indigenousness� of its tribe has come in the eye of a storm, with several women�s organisations today voicing their opposition to its provisions.

On July 25, Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) � one of the three self-governing bodies in Meghalaya � passed a legislation that aims to strip a Khasi woman of her tribal status once she marries an outsider.

The legislation, if approved by the Governor, will be applicable in West Khasi Hills, East Khasi Hills and Ri Bhoi � the districts that come under the purview of KHADC.

Terming the Bill �insensitive�, Meghalaya State Women�s Commission chairperson Theilin Phanbuh today said the Council should have arranged for a public debate on the matter before tabling the Bill.

�The Bill is gender-biased as it talks only about women. What about men who chose to marry a non-tribal wife? This is a sensitive issue,� she said.

Echoing similar sentiments, Agnes Kharshiing, the president of a civil society organisation, said marriage is a fundamental right of every person and KHADC move is aimed at �ostracising� women.

�Does this Bill stand the legal tests? I have a serious doubt about it,� she said.

Several women�s organisations here have also threatened to move court against the Bill.

Defending the Bill, KHADC chief executive member HS Shylla said the move is aimed at protecting their lineage. �It would go a long way in preserving the traditional matrilineal system of society.�

�Those opposing the move hail from urban areas. In the tribal belts, organisations, including Khasi Students Union(KSU), have come out in support of the Bill,� he added.

DV Thabah, KSU president, said �We welcome the Bill. It is important to curtail the influx of outsiders, who marry tribal women for the sake of owning land and doing business here.�

According to the 2011 Census, around 1.4 million Khasis reside in Meghalaya. � PTI

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