Rising crimes against women hot issue in matrilineal Meghalaya

Rising crimes against women is a major issue that the opposition parties in Meghalaya are highlighting this election. Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman, who visited the state recently, blamed the ruling Congress for the situation. Meghalaya is a matrilineal society.

The National Crime Records Bureau data reveals a sharp rise in serious offenses. According to data, from 2001 to 2015, the number of reported crimes against women rose from 66 to 334. In that period, the number of rapes went up from 26 to 93, and complaints of sexual harassment rose from 25 to 95.

Human rights activist Agnes Kharshiing told Indus Scrolls that the Meghalaya society has changed for the worse. Explosion of information technology and social media have added to women’s woes. “People say it is a matrilineal society but crimes against women especially children are on the rise,” she said. Recently, on January 1, a 17-year-old girl was gang-raped in Mawryngkneng in East Khasi Hills district, and a 13-year-old was gang-raped in Southwest Khasi Hills district.

Independent MLA Julius Kitbok Dorphang, who is fighting the election from jail, is facing trial for raping a minor girl. Kharshiing says the politicians are least interested in implementation of laws. “The figures that we see are only those reported. Most women, especially children do not report,” she said.

Only through setting up fast-tack courts that such crimes could be curbed, said the social activist.