District level consultation meeting was held at RWUS training hall. A good number of participants from different communities from the district turn up. It was a very notable achievement for the district to have consultation meetings to discuss conducted by the agency. The program was moderated by Ms. Nissi, the program coordinator of RWUS.
Keynote address was given by Ms. Mary Beth, the secretary of RWUS. She highlighted about the current issues in relation to customary, which are hindrances to women empowerment. Customary law is important and respectable. However, there are parts which are unfriendly to women. She suggests customary law to be documented but not to codify it. She also invites women folk to work together to bring change.
The resource person, Dr. Immanuel Varte talked on the topic of Tribal Customary Laws: Land and Property Rights, child custody, marriage and divorce”. He states that the most important thing for women empowerment is financial stability. He traced back the aged day’s traditional practices and norms in regards to land and property rights of women. He gives a report of his research on tribal customary law in Northeast India. Talking about bride price, he states that it is good to amend it because if it is too high, women can go as commercial commodity, and if it is too low, it lowers their status. So bride price is a good to regularize. At the end of his speech, he made suggestions that participation of men is a must in any customary law related programs, because Indian government itself is patriarchy. So it is difficult only for women to move for change. Even if we know our rights, it is difficult to convince our men. Women should be careful in approaching men, not to be too moderate or extreme, equilibrium approach is needed.
Sharing by the participants: The participants unanimously suggest that in case of divorce; let the divorce money/ compensation be enough to rehabilitate women.
There was another topic on “Legal rights of women related to customary law” taken by
Ms. Lalsiamleni, an Advocate. She talked more on the rights of women related to property rights, child custody, marriage and divorce. She stresses the importances of marriage registration in SDO to safe guard them, claim for their rights and avail any financial benefits. She also talked about Child custody, Property rights, Adultery and Christian Marriage Law.
Sharing by the participants: The participants agree to registered their marriage and spread the awareness to their women folk who are not aware of its importance. They even agree to ask participation of women in decision making, encouraging and trying to convince parents for change.
Participants shared the need for in-depth study of customary laws, find ways and means to reach to the stakeholders involving in framing and executing the said laws. And also spread the idea to the more people to be aware of the advantage and disadvantage of customary laws especially for women.
Spread the need of approaching the state legal authorities for availing the guaranteed rights and entitlements. More number of activities- consultations, discussions and workshop need to be conducted on tribal customary laws and also on the state legal process, rights and entitlements.