We, the undersigned women’s organisations and concerned individuals take serious note of the fierce opposition to women’s reservation of 33% seats in Nagaland Municipal Councils by male dominated tribal bodies in Nagaland in the name of protecting their tradition and customary practices that bar women from participating in decision-making bodies. We strongly condemn this anti-woman position of Nagaland Tribes Action Committee (NTAC) that has been formed supposedly to “protect” Naga tribal practices. While NTAC quotes Article 371(A) of the Constitution to assert that they are empowered to make their own laws, they choose to ignore Constitutional principle of equality before law, thus denying the Naga women their electoral rights.
Time and again women’s movements in India have confronted issues of community identity vs the rights of women. In almost every instance, communities and their leaders have chosen to sacrifice the rights of women to safeguard patriarchal practices in the name of tradition and custom. In the present imbroglio NTAC has used threats and violence to prevent women from filing their nominations, or even to withdraw their papers. Through all this, the State government has remained silent spectator and tried to wash its hands off on the issue of women’s representation in local bodies by cancelling the elections to local bodies under pressure from these tribal bodies by merely citing law and order concerns. In the process, the State has become complicit in protecting patriarchal traditions to the detriment of principles of gender equality. What is not being asserted is that Urban Local Bodies are not traditional Naga institutions recognised by Article 371(A) of the Constitution but rather, Constitutional bodies under Part IX of the Constitution over which the traditional Naga bodies have no mandate. Continue reading “Feminists Condemn Opposition To Women’s Reservation In Nagaland Municipal Councils”