LETTERS | Shillong, Sept 3, 2018:
This letter serves as my counter petition to Global Petition:- The Khasi Jaintia Tribe is one of the few matrilineal and matriarchal societies of the world and India.
Mixed marriages with non indigenous men is destroying the fabric of our customs and traditions opening the way for economic exploitation, loss of identity and destruction of lineage since our society is based on the Kur or Clan system.
In order to stop this, the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (A constitutional authority established under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India) passed an amendment to the existing Lineage Act of 1997 to regulate mixed marriages to the extent that a Khasi-Jaintia woman who marries a non Khasi-Jaintia will lose her customary rights including her clan name.
Now we find that one social activist has made a global petition to oppose the Act since she is born of a non Khasi-Jaintia father. The stand she had taken is not supported by the majority of our people.
Any opinion on this by outsiders will put us at risk of economic exploitation, loss of our land and identity and probably extinction of our tribe.
I care for my people especially our women. We take the surname of our mothers which is a unique system of society, culture, custom and traditions. These are being assailed by outsiders.
And when we have a minority of our women, who have married non Khasi-Jaintia men, and are living forward class lifestyle, who no longer know or respect our culture and customs, who are influential and can distort the facts, then we are in deep trouble unless the global society helps us to preserve our tribe.
The Constitution of India has made adequate provisions and rights for us to make laws to protect ourselves but we fear that a misinformed world view will seriously damage our efforts to protect and conserve the Khasi-Jaintia Tribe.
I am sure that right thinking people will empathize and support our efforts.
(By Erwin K. Syiem Sutnga- An Advocate by profession)