In India’s matrilineal tribe, women’s special status is under threat

In the Khasitribe, an indigenous community of 1.3 million people living in the state of Meghalaya in northeast India, women enjoy special status. A matrilineal society for centuries is one of the less than 500 remaining in the world. more common children and boys are preferred, it is far from life at the risk of disappearing. Clara Lecomte and Adil Bhat of FRANCE 24 have tabled this special report.

Children born in the Indian tribe of Khasi bear the name of their mother, their daughters inherit their property from their mother and men move in with their wife after marriage.

In the village of Kongthong, Policy Khongjee, a Khasi, has a three-month-old daughter, Panjob, who bears her surname. Her daughter will also inherit the family land.

“I was so happy when I had my first daughter because before I only had boys,” said Khongjee.

The special status of women is not limited to the family. In Meghalaya, Khasi women are on the same level as men when it comes to participating in economic activities. In the village of Kwheng, the inhabitants live from agriculture and silk weaving thanks to a cooperative led by eight women.

“In many parts of India, women depend on men and their income to live,” said Rikynti Syem, a member of the cooperative. “We Khasi women are responsible for the family’s money. When man works, he must give what he earns. and the woman is responsible for the expenses. “

As the tradition continues, anthropologists say it may soon disappear. Women who leave the region to work and marry outside the Khasi community threaten the continuation of the matrilineal system. But a more recent threat has emerged: a human rights group that was trying to establish a patrilineal society. He wants to abolish a system that is unfair by offering special privileges to women.

If Khasi’s lifestyle were to change, it could signal a setback for women struggling to defend their rights in other parts of India.

Click on the video player above to view this special report.