“Matriliny breeds a culture of men who feel useless.”
In the small hilly Indian state of Meghalaya, a matrilineal system operates with property names and wealth passing from mother to daughter rather than father to son – but some men are campaigning for change.
…I am sitting across a table from Keith Pariat, President of Syngkhong-Rympei-Thymmai, Meghalaya’s very own men’s rights movement.
He is quick to assure me that he and his colleagues “do not want to bring women down,” as he puts it. “We just want to bring the men up to where the women are.”
Mr Pariat, who ignored age-old customs by taking his father’s surname is adamant that matriliny is breeding generations of Khasi men who fall short of their inherent potential, citing alcoholism and drug abuse among its negative side-effects.
“If you want to know how much the Khasis favour women just take a trip to the labour ward at the hospital,” he says.
“If it’s a girl, there will be great cheers from the family outside. If it’s a boy, you will hear them mutter politely that, ‘Whatever God gives us is quite all right.'”
Fascinating throughout. Related story here:
“We have been reduced to baby-sitters or housekeepers. We have no role in our society except fathering babies,” says Enoch Kharkhongor, a shopkeeper in the state’s capital Shillong, now in his mid-twenties.
… The influence of the rest of India and its culture, carried through Bollywood films, is all beginning to have an effect.
“These Hindi films, full of women-beating, dowry fights and all that, are affecting our values. Our males are getting upset,” says Roshan Wajri, a former woman legislator of the state assembly.
One of the reasons the demand for change in property laws is gaining ground in Meghalaya is because many Khasi and Jaintia women have married people from outside the region, -Dhkars as they are known.
“Our property may be lost to these outsiders. We cannot accept that,” says Mick Bareh.