Female ‘farmer’ sows seeds of gender bias

Posted on 29 July 2011


Jul 28, 2011, 11.24PM IST
SAMBALPUR: In a classic example of how male members of society fix gender role for women in patriarchy, a tribal woman was allegedly outcast from her community for performing a “male act” : sowing paddy seeds in the field.

She was driven out by the villagers’ body after she refused to pay a punishment tax imposed on her by them. Villagers even performed rituals and sacrificed an animal to appease their presiding deity, as they felt she might have got angry with the act of the woman. A grand feast was also arranged.

On the other hand, the family of the woman was not permitted to take water either from the village pond or from the tube well. The villagers’ body decided to impose a fine on any villager who keeps any relation with the outcast family.

The incident took place in the tribal dominated Masinda village in Debagarh’s Barkote police station area. It houses more than 40 tribal families. Surrounded by thick forests, the village is cut off from main land because of poor communication. The victim, identified as Mani Hanaga (50) became the lone bread earner of the family after her husband Sibio Hanaga became invalid last year.

“She had sown paddy seeds in her filed last month. But in tribal community, sowing seeds is considered a sin for women. It is against their custom. So they warned her and imposed a fine on her as they felt her act could displease the village deity. They asked her to pay Rs.10,000 along with a goat and 10 chickens to appease the village deity,” a social activist from Barkote Surendra Guru said on Thursday.

Guru, who visited the village after the incident, informed that the village body outcast her whole family after she refused to obey their direction. “When women take part in farming everywhere, why should I be stopped from sowing the seeds?”, she asked.

Meanwhile, the district collector has taken the matter seriously. He has asked officials to look into the matter and submit a report for further action. “The incident has come to my notice and I have asked the local BDO to prepare a report on the issue. I will take action once I receive the report,” Deogarh collector B B Jena said on Thursday.