The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary five

caption: contradictions between informants over treatment of rape
medium: diaries
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
date: 29.5.1937
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 1.4.1937-26.6.1937
note: translated from german by Dr Ruth Barnes
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: In another point as well Metlou and Yongang contradict each other. While setting up the word list I had looked in vain for an expression meaning rape and during this conversation Metlou declared that a man who rapes a woman has to pay her husband a laya; if it is a girl, her parents receive the laya. According to Yongang there is no fine if the rape is not of a girl from the same exogamous unit. The rape of a married woman is treated differently. "If someone rapes my wife in the jungle (193) I take a dao", he said and picked up his goat-hair ornamented dao next to him. I assumed that with a weapon in his hand he would take revenge on the offender for the insult to his marriage, but the dao has a more harmless function. Yongang meant that he would request the fine of one dao from the offender. This could bring one to believe that the honour of a Wakching woman is held in low esteem but in fact rape is probably extremely rare and most women can defend themselves very well. There is no specific word for rape but they use the word 'phum-bu', meaning adultery, lewdness. Apparently it is very rare that the woman is a totally unwilling partner.