Tribal leaders in India's remote northeast are offering cash rewards to women who bear more than a dozen children in a bid to keep from being outnumbered by settlers from elsewhere, a leader said yesterday.
In the past two months, Khasi tribal chieftains in Meghalaya State have paid 16,000 rupees (US$348) each to four such women including 45-year-old Amilia Sohtun, who has 17 children, said H.S. Shylla, a member of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council.
Sohtun runs a tea stand at Laitkor Peak, a tourist spot near Meghalaya's capital, Shillong.
Tribal elders defended the move, which has infuriated many women and health activists.
"Our community faces a genuine threat of being outnumbered by outsiders, and the only way we can prevent our race from becoming extinct is to ensure our population rises soon enough," Shylla said.
The council is an elected administrative body of tribal leaders in Meghalaya. It works with the state government on development issues, and makes decisions regarding customary community rules.
The Khasis, numbering less than a million, are the majority community in Christian-dominated Meghalaya, which has 2.5 million people.
"The community is worried about an unabated influx of migrants from outside the state," Shylla said.
However, some in the state decried the incentive program.
"We oppose the idea because no one has the right to keep having babies unless she can provide them with a quality life," said Theilin Phanbuh, an activist in Shillong.
"It is for the authorities to check the influx or settlement of outsiders in traditional land belonging to our people. Increasing our community's population by having more children is not the answer," she said.
Meghalaya health activist Hasina Kharbhih also slammed the idea.
"A woman's body is not a machine that she can go on having babies. The government must intervene on the Khasi Council's decision because of the health issues involved," she said.
Shylla said the decision to pay mothers of more than 12 "has been generally welcomed."
The council has received four more requests for cash incentives from women with more than a dozen children, Shylla said.
In Meghalaya's matrilineal society, a man moves into his bride's home and their children take the mother's maiden name.
Meghalaya is one of the seven states in India's northeast where fears of migration from other parts of India and Bangladesh have helped fuel separatist revolts.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,