Seminars /Workshops Organised, 2004-2005:
The Commission organized two separate Seminars of one day each on the topic 'Marriage and Family Ties'; one among the Garos on the 4th June, 2005 at Tura, West Garo Hills district and the other among the Khasis on the 11th June, 2005 at Shillong.
The objective of both the Seminars was to create awareness among the youths with regard to the importance of legalization of marriage amongst the tribes and to persuade the government so that the unhealthy trend prevailing in the society, such as teenage pregnancy, co-habitation and unwed mothers could be arrested to a certain extent and build a stronger tribal society.
The men folks are addicted to alcoholism due to frustration and various other reasons and women are the brewers of the local stuff/drinks for economic stability, but as a result many women become widows.
11.1. The Seminar dealt at length the existing system of succession and inheritance, marriages and family ties, divorce and other legal protection etc., and recommended as follows:-
1. Garo Society is governed by matrilineal laws of succession and inheritance, so this is a unique in itself and deviation from this will lead to confusion. Therefore, it is recommended that the existing system to remain for the time being.
2. Since most of the marriages are un-registered, the legal protection and monetary maintenance for the divorcee/mother and children are deprived in the present scenario. It is urged upon that the marriage should be registered either in the traditional way with the Nokma (Headman) as a witness or in any other form so that the stability and protection of the family is guaranteed. For this, the Nokma (Headman) should be empowered to work out the modalities.
3. The Nokma is also to ensure that no marriage shall be considered legal and registered unless the boys and girls attain 21 years of age and 18 years of age respectively. This would ensure responsible parent-hood.
4. Documentation of Customary Laws and legalization of marriage after that the codification will be processed.
5. It is seen that due to non registration, non legalization of marriage a large amount of ability of the children are wasted, which leads to juvenile delinquency, child labour, dropouts and other anti social activities.
11.2. The second Seminar discussed at length the existing system of family ties/divorce and legal protection for the women in a matrilineal society and recommended as follows:-
1. Khasi society is governed by the matrilineal laws of succession and inheritance. The social institutions are therefore unique and different from the patrilineal customs of succession which is universal among nearly all the races of people in the globe. The system of kinship and succession among the Khasi, therefore centre round the mother.
a) In view of the matrilineal customs that are in vogue adoption of mother's clan name by the children male or female of the family as violation of it may lead to any kind of complication as such confused notions, in not using the correct mother's title, have affected society during the late years. Adoption of mother's clan name in fact is a standing usage.
2. The Seminar recommended that adequate protection to be given to women affected by divorces of their husbands, thereby to enabling them to receive compensatory protection that is in respect of the wife and her children as per the prevailing usages.
3. To empower Durbar Shnongs (local Durbars) to register marriages within their respective confines to ensure proper steps to sustain marriages and prevent them from being easily breakable and prevent households from being single parentage or one side's desertion.
4. Durbar Shnongs further are to ensure that no boy and girl to get married before 21 and 18 years respectively of age that is on the basis of registration of births and other kind of documentation for verification to be made available by the local authority.
5. It also recommended to urge upon his Excellency the Governor of Meghalaya to kindly give his assent to the Will system Bill passed by the Autonomous Khasi Hills District Council since 1997. Assent of this Bill into an Act will be very helpful to transfer parts of self acquired property of parents to sons apart from daughters as should become a good nucleus to raise investments and start business enterprises on the part of males.
6. The Bill on Registration of Marriage is helpful to curtail loose and wasteful marriages and regularize marital connection on a firmer footing. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared by for his or her parents. In the similar line, registration of marriage may also be made mandatory. Many renowned N.G.Os emphasized the need to enact the bill for Compulsory Registration of Marriage.
In this regard, after the deliberations the Commission had requested the Council (K.H.A.D.C.) to envisage measures in Registration of Marriages and understandably, steps have been taken in containing the irregularities prevailing in the marriage system. It is understood that the assent of the Hon. Governor of Meghalaya is yet to be sought on the bill.
12. The North Eastern Regional Workshop held on 19th and 20th November 2004 on Women Power Connect organized by Women Power Connect and the Meghalaya State Commission for Women discussed about the Women's reservation in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. The matter still remains in cold storage.
13. The Chairperson participated at the North East Consultation meet organized by Ministry of Women and Child Development on 17th and 18th February, 2005 in collaboration with the Directorate of Social Welfare, Government of Meghalaya, relating the Health issues of women, girls and children.
14. Organized the Anti Dowry Day on 26th November, 2004 at Women's College, Shillong sponsored by the Directorate of Social Welfare. Professor Sujata Miri, NEHU, Professor Y.N. Karma, Head Sociology Department, Principal of Women's College threw light on the evils of dowry and its practices. The Deputy Superintendent (Crime) also attended the meeting and informed that the number of cases received though very small, but still there is a need to create awareness among the people in the city. Students from various colleges of the city and members from the Sarada Sangha (Rama Krishna Mission) Mahila Ekta Samiti and other N.G.O. members attended the programme.
15. The Chairperson attended a One day National Convention on 'Review of the Dowry Act', 1961, as the Guest of Honour - and also presented a paper - from 22nd to 24th November, 2005.