Violence, Customary Law and Indigenous Women’s Rights in Asia
The briefing paper analyses how gender relations in Asian indigenous societies have undergone and continue to undergo changes in response to external factors. Finally it draws conclusions and recommendations based on addressing problems through empowering indigenous women in traditional customary institutions. Values and gender relations of the dominant mainstream society which indigenous peoples are forced to co-exist with can have a detrimental effect on the status and thus the overall situation of indigenous women. In India and Nepal, for example, some indigenous peoples have come to be strongly influenced by Hindu society in which women have a decidedly subordinate status. Adaptation to Hindu society may even go as far as the adoption of the practice of demanding a dowry, which carries with it the implication that baby girls become unwanted and unborn girls are often forcefully aborted. On the other hand, education raises awareness among indigenous women and offers access to jobs and positions which carry a higher status and thus the potential to change gender relations. This publication has been published with the support from IWGIA and others.