The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

miscellaneous papers, notebooks and letters on Nagas by Ursula Graham Bower, 1937-1947

caption: sexual liaisons among the Zemi
caption: illegitimate children and abortion
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Zemi
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1937-1946
person: private collection
text: Illegitimate children are secretly made away with, but abortion is practised if the girl realises her condition in time; the abortion is probably produced. It is produced by a root similar to "hega-zing" and said not to produce purging. A young girl may not realise she is with child till it is too late to procure abortion by this means, and in this case she will probably have to have the child. It is generally killed, but the risk of going to jail for it makes abortion the more popular method. A girl who has had a child finds it difficult to get a decent husband, and her marriage price drops by a great deal. In spite of the nightly love-affairs, very few girls seem to have illegitimate children; either abortion is effective and very common, or the births are kept very secret, even among the Nagas themselves.