Tuesday, March 8, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Khap lifts ban on women to attend its meetings



Khap lifts ban on women to attend its meetings
Deepender Deswal, TNN | Mar 8, 2011, 12.39pm IST

SISANA (SONIPAT): On the eve of first International Women Day, in
1911, a panchayat of Dahiya khap (a Jat clan) held in Barona village
of Sonipat district to take steps for spreading education in society.
But in the same meeting, it also took a retrograde decision to impose
ban on venturing out of women in bazaars and attending the panchayats.

Later, it became a social norm in Haryana that no woman could attend
any panchayat and even enter in a chaupal (a village commonplace where
panchayat used to be held).

It took exactly a century for the Haryanavi women to break free the
age old shackles prevailing in the male dominated society when same
khap panchayat reverted its earlier diktats.

The Dahiya khap convened a panchayat on the eve of women day, to mark
1000 years of earlier panchayat, has made the participation of women
in decision making in every meeting of khap panchayat mandatory.

"The decision to engage women in the decision making process could
bring about a paradigm shift in the status of women in the state which
is notorious for skewed sex ratio due to social bias against the
girlchild and the honour killings," women activists reacted.

Tuesday's panchayat was presided over by the Pratap Singh and was
attended by 160 leaders of different khaps and tapas (clans and
regions) besides thousands of khap members mostly from the rural parts
including women.

Santosh Dahiya, a professor in the Kurukshetra university who had been
making efforts for ensuring the participation of women in khaps, while
addressing the gathering stated that without the involvement of women,
khap panchayats could not succeeded launching any kind of social
reforms. Proposing that the khap panchayats should register themselves
as NGOs, Dahiya stated, "The khap panchayats must evolve its decision
making process by taking women on its board. The diktats being issued
by any khap panchayat other than the registered one should be
condemned and rejected."

Another women speaker, Suresh Boora, principal of a government women
college in Kharkhoda town stressed, "Gender bias has been inherent in
the decisions taken in the khap panchayats so far. The khap panchayats
could get wider acceptability and validation only if women are
involved in the process."

Madhu Kishwar, a women rights activist who was present in the
panchayat maintained it could be a positive initiative towards
empowerment of women. "The khap panchayats are better than the NGOs in
the present context. If it works with honesty and give equal status to
women in its process, khap could very effective. It's good that they
have taken up issues like female feoticide, honour killing, dowry
harassment and oppose lavish show of money in marriage functions,
which are all related to women."

Surender Dahiya, convener of the panchayat informed that the meeting
had adopted 25 resolutions in the meeting comprising stress on
education and employment in youths, awakening youth against drug
addiction, spreading brotherhood among all the communities and castes
besides the women related issues. "The meeting had resolved to form
village-wise committees in every khap to awaken the society against
the prevailing social evils. These committees would have equal number
of men and women representation," he informed. He, however, added that
so far the proposal of registering the khaps as NGOs have been kept
pending which will be discussed in the next meeting at a wider scale.

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