The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript notes on the Zemi Nagas by Ursula Graham Bower

caption: status of women
caption: custody of the children.
medium: notes
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1939-1946
refnum: Betts papers, ring binder 1
person: Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge
text: In all cases the children go to their father's family when weaned, or earlier. Very small infants remain with the mother until weaned, when they are handed over to the father's family, the mother having no further rights or connection with them. The father must pay his former wife a 'milk-price' of about Rs. 10/- in consideration for her feeding the child. Frequently the baby remains in the father's house, the mother taking it at night and returning it in the morning when she goes to the fields for the day. Cases occur of a woman divorced against her will refusing to suckle her own child and leaving it, for good or ill, to the father's family, and of the father's kin refusing to leave an unweaned child with the mother on the ground that she is of bad character or "simple" and might neglect it.