'Condition of tribal women pathetic'

Last Updated 28 March 2014, 18:25 IST

In addition to high rate of maternal mortality, still births and miscarriages common

“Failure of land reform policies and incursion of modernisation has affected the tribal women adversely,” said C G Hussain Khan, retired professor of Anthropology, Karnatak University, Dharwad, here, on Friday.

He was delivering the key-note address during the inaugural ceremony of a two-day national seminar on ‘Empowerment of Tribal Women in India: With special reference to Karnataka’.

Large scale migration of tribal men and women to industrial areas and tea plantations has uprooted their cultural and economic base. The inequalities among genders, which exist in the mainstream societies, have gradually crept into their lifestyle, worsening the condition of women, he said.

The patriarchal male ideologies of the employers have got translated in terms of giving lower wages to women, along with harder and monotonous work rules. “Wife-beating, domestic violence and abandonment of women has become common among tribals,” he lamented.

He blamed the entailing development policies of the country for the ill fate of tribal populations. 

“These policies have allowed multi-national companies and the domestic corporate sector to enter indigenous resource areas, including tribal habitations, which are rich in minerals. This has deprived the original inhabitants of the land of their habitat and subsistence base,” he said.

“Tribal women face several health complications. In addition to high rate of maternal mortality, they suffer from frequent miscarriage and still births,” he added.

Five year plans

“To address the issues pertaining to tribals, many programmes were formulated and implemented across the country during the 12 Five Year Plans. 

However, such programmes have failed to recognise gender implications. In planning and policy formulation of tribal programmes, the category of tribal women is rarely taken into account,” Khan said.

The question of development and empowerment of tribal women cannot be seen in isolation. These issues need to be addressed by taking into consideration the context of a particular tribal culture at micro-levels, he said.


T V Kattimani, Vice-Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Madhya Pradesh, said, educated tribal women should take interest in learning the conditions of women in their tribes.

“Even though tribal women are in a pathetic condition, educated tribal women are not interested in conducting research on the women of their own community. Comprehensive studies on tribal women will go a long way in improving their conditions,” he said.

(Published 28 March 2014, 18:25 IST)

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