This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Hasina Kharbhih. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

I am a Khasi No Bill Can Take My Identity By Emarine Kharbhih

More from Hasina Kharbhih

Dear Leaders, Members and Office bearers of Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council, 

I am a common Shillong woman in my mid twenties borne out of a khasi mother and a non khasi father wedlock. My family members never followed the religion of my father or grandfather rather I have been taught to proudly display the practice of a matrilineal society whenever and wherever I represent myself outside the state of Meghalaya in any platform that I go to. I have spent most of my time outside the state of Meghalaya and I have always asserted my identity as a Khasi and how my future children will carry my khasi lineage as a way of making people understand the power of khasi women and how beautiful this society is as compared to many other societies even if they are progressive and developed. I have a Scheduled Tribe Certificate but have never used it after I became an adult and that piece of paper is lying somewhere in my cupboard (I  don’t look at it because over the years I have turned into a privilege woman and find it so unfair to take advantage of it). Although I may not use this Scheduled Tribe Certificate but I still keep it because it gives me a sense of my identity which I strongly hold on to, a sense of belongingness and makes me believe that I am a part of a Khasi society regardless of whether I attend clan meetings or communion gatherings. It gives me a sense of security that no one can take my identity away from me and that my future children too will get a sense of belongingness and identity through this document. In all my past relationships with non khasi men, I have always told them that no matter who I get married to or where I start living I will always be a Khasi and that my children will carry my lineage forward and not the identity of whoever I get married to. I am not sure if this makes me a feminist but I am only making sure that my future off springs too gets this sense of pride from being a Khasi and the value this community really holds. I don’t think I am diluting the khasi population in anyway rather I am carrying it forward! (I am quite aware of the pure scientific bloodline and DNA but who isn’t a part of this mixed race anyway if we are to start digging our ancestral family tree or bloodline) I see myself as a Khasi and that I belong in this society amongst you all. 

I deeply understand this sense of insecurity and the threat which comes along with the invasion of people in the society and taking advantage of the benefits which comes along with a Scheduled Tribe Certificate and how the right people of the community do not reap such benefits. For instance, a Khasi woman married to a non khasi man and the husband uses the document to evade tax or get schemes by doing business under the wife’s name or the children and the rich get richer while the poor tribals are still on the disadvantaged end. I really hope this is what the new bill aims to focus on and that the typist in your office has misconstrued some grammar and lines in the bill which makes it looks regressive and patriarchal! I also understand English is not our mother tongue even I end up making errors and somehow I demonstrate a different significance or connotation which I don’t mean to and I assume that your kind office made the same error. It’s never too late to correct some grammatical errors and gender stereotypes here and there. At the end of the day, humans err! 

However, if the Khasi Social Customs of Lineage (Second Amendment) Bill 2018 really means to outrage the identity of Khasi women after marriage and her children out of a non khasi wedlock then Shame On You! It is only defeating the core idea of a matrilineal society displaying signs of patriarchy and it is exactly an amalgamation of a herd of narrow mindedness which can never truly protect the Khasi Society and after few years even the word Khasi will no longer exists (I also believe in the saying ‘love conquers all’ and a woman’s heart will fall in love with whoever they want to without even thinking that they may be stripped from Khasi privileges). So tell me, are you still sure that you are rightly protecting the people and preventing this silent invasion of non khasis? 

I also have another apprehension towards this bill! In this progressive world where each human is an equal to one another but this new Bill chose to only target women with a justification that in the future even ‘tangjait’ (khasi men marrying non khasi women and the children out of such marriage can be a Khasi) will also be rejected or denounced. I strongly believe that such deep level of playful patriarchy acts should not exists at least I don’t expect my leaders to have this ideology. If we want to develop the society then we should carry forward the people of all gender and type in this movement together towards preserving custom, culture and identity without biasness while retrospect if such amendments in the bill will really uphold the Khasi society because honestly I feel suffocated, vulnerable and insecure of my identity in front of this staunch hindutva-like idea of yours and I may even start shaming the bill amongst my peers, colleagues, friends, family and to the people I often meet outside the state of Meghalaya in personal and professional platforms. Can you see me as your daughter and think deeply the percussions of this bill will do to me and my future identity? 

Lastly, I can carry on telling you what is so wrong with this amendment in the bill but I think if the very idea of Equity doesn’t sit right in our minds then I am only knocking my head on the wall. I also strongly believe in applying this ideology of equity because a domino effect will happen where the right and the disadvantaged people will reap the benefits and not the economically privilege khasi people in the society. Isn’t KHADC formed to live this idea of uplifting the lives of the tribals?  

Nevertheless, I am moving forward after writing this letter with an open heart and mind that you will rethink about this bill again or that there will be no assent to this bill by the Governor too. I am also moving forward equally determined that I will not let a small group of people or Guardians of culture and tradition decide my fate and that of many khasi women out there. And if ever I marry a non khasi, I will fearlessly remain a Khasi and my future children too will be khasi and I will teach them to carry forward the torch of a matrilineal society and I will tell them those stories which my grandmother told me about being a Khasi woman and how a woman’s voice is so important in a family and community because they bring the family together  and is a caretaker of ancestral values and material property which is then reaped by the future generation of a society. And along with this, I will teach my children equity with a value to love and hold each other together in a world where conformity is so rapid while people are losing the identity of uniqueness.  

Yours Sincerely

Emarine Kharbhih 

P.S Apologies if I offended you all by not addressing this letter with Sir or Madam, it is because I have given up the idea of Feudalism a long time ago.

You can reach me in

Youth Ki Awaaz is an open platform where anybody can publish. This post does not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions.

You must be to comment.

More from Hasina Kharbhih

Similar Posts

By lamtrancl123456

By Md Khalid Hassan

By shalu vinratech

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below