Indigenous people of Bangladesh are marginalized in the national context of Bangladesh primarily because of their ethnic and religious identities as being non-Bengali and non-Muslim in a majority Bengali Muslim dominated country. Indigenous women are additionally discriminated against for their gender identify both at the national and community levels. They are generally situated at the bottom of ethnic, religious, gender and class based hierarchy in the society. The study argues that the situations of adibasi women’s positions are indeed contrasting with the presence of certain rights and privileges and absence of some basic rights and voices simultaneously.
What are the practical situations indeed? To what extent are these women discriminated against or privileged within their communities? How are some crucial gender relations constructed in these societies- these are the major queries of the book. Accordingly, the study has unravelled the hidden matrix of women’s positions and gender relations in the selected adibasi communities of Dalu, Garo, Khasi, Oraon, Patra and Santal. A side-by-side discussion of the patrilineal and matrilineal communities has given scope to have a glimpse of the comparative picture of two different lineage groups. Socially and economically women of patriarchal communities are discriminated against more than their matrilineal counterparts. However, somewhat liberal practice in choice of and consent in marriage and divorce, absence of the practice of polygamy, freedom of movement have generally given these adibasi women some privileges within the respective communities. With respect to education and health, there exist a number of obstacles for education for both adibasi girls and boys in both patriarchal and matrilineal communities, yet girls’ education are more constrained. Domestic violence exists, although rarity of sexual harassment against adibasi women by adibasi men is to be noticed. However, harassment and violence perpetrated by Bengali men against indigenous women are one of the principle reasons of indigenous women’s increased insecurity and vulnerability. Suggested measures have aimed at bring about changes in the core issues at the policy level as well as in the practice and implementation levels.