2 Naga women, Inotoli Zhimomi & Dolly Kikon call out the #patriarchal custodians of #Naga tradition
Amidst various contending voices interpreting Nagaland troubles, it is easy to forget that the demand for 33% reservation in Urban Local Body election and gender justice in ‘traditional’ institutions was not an ‘Indian Imperial’ idea but was due to valiant struggles of Naga women. Two Naga women, Dolly Kikon & Inotoli Zhimomi’s launched this petition to voice Naga women’s long quest for gender justice. Featured poster was made by the authors to protest against the ongoing Naga men’s opposition to 33% reservation for Naga women. Do sign the petition.
Currently, life in Nagaland has been brought to a standstill after an indefinite bandh by men’s tribal bodies, following their opposition to the implementation of the 33% Reservation for women in the urban local bodies (ULB). Since 2006, when the first Amendment for the Nagaland Municipal Act was enacted, Naga men’s tribal bodies have vehemently opposed such reservation on the grounds that it violates Article 371 (A) of the Indian Constitution. Several legal appeals from the Naga Mothers Association have resulted in a series of successful court rulings ordering the State Parliament to introduce the reservation. After the ULB election was scheduled for the 1st of February, 2017, the government of Nagaland was pressured to postpone it after violent protests led by men’s tribal bodies resulting in the death of two young men. As well as bandh, state authorities have blocked access to internet and censored social media.
customary laws are being used to reinforce patriarchy and legitimize violence, to subject and silence women and to shut down any space for gender justice
What is Article 371 (A)?
Among the key provisions of Article 371 (A) of the Indian Constitution are the following:
(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;
The article and its provisions are ambiguous as to what constitutes customary law. Given that Naga men and their tribal bodies have complete control over both the definition and exercise of what constitutes Naga customary laws, there is no room left for any debate or conversation with other concerned persons. It has now come to a point where customary laws are being used to reinforce patriarchy and legitimize violence, to subject and silence women and to shut down any space for gender justice.
Naga women’s quest for gender justice will be pushed even further backwards and the structural injustice they face even greater if cowardly suggestions by the Nagaland Government is adopted
Extreme measures are being proposed by the Nagaland government. It has decided to write to the Central Government of India demanding that Nagaland be exempted from Part IX A of the Constitution. The Nagaland government has declared: ‘If the State Government and all the stakeholders cannot arrive at an amicable resolution of this issue at the earliest, the best option appears to be to seek exemption of Nagaland from Part IX A of the Constitution, which contains a mandatory provision under Article 243T for 33% women reservation in ULBs, which will put to rest the issue and avoid further misunderstanding among the people’.
Naga women’s quest for gender justice will be pushed even further backwards and the structural injustice they face even greater if such a cowardly suggestion by the Nagaland Government is adopted.
We sincerely urge you to stand with Naga women and support 33% reservation and pressure the Indian Government to facilitate peaceful process for the Naga women’s political participation by signing this petition demanding that the Government of India:
- refrain from granting exemption to the State of Nagaland from Part IX A of the Constitution
- facilitate the Nagaland Government to uphold the rule of law and implement the 33% reservation as per the binding order of the Supreme Court.
- resume the Urban Local Body (ULB) election procedure and schedule a date at the earliest, while ensuring the safety of the women candidates and voters.
- immediately restore law and order and ensure safety for students returning to schools and those who are having board exams and civilians
- to immediately bestow access to internet and repeal social media ban
- set up a citizen inquiry committee consisting of women’s rights activists, lawyers, academics, civil and political rights organisations, policy makers and citizens to investigate the violence that has caused death, destruction of property and immeasurable suffering to Naga society.
- support Naga women’s organisations and solidarity groups to undertake public debate and discussion on customary law in Nagaland and how it can incorporate women’s rights, including their active political participation.
Prime Minister of India
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
UN Women: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
Commission on the Status of Women (UN)
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA)
National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (India)
Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights