Friday, September 11, 2009

Notes on Man Capture

Single mothers also qualify for man capture

To capture a man, then immediately marry him, you need a chicken.

When the cotton is in bloom, it is the season for man capture. Men from one village capture men from another for marriage to their unmarried sisters, cousins and nieces. If a man accepts the marriage, he moves into the village of his wife and shares her property. And if he doesn't?

Producers synopsis

In South Asia, men take most decisions, even about women's lives. Ratmi, a young, single mother in a village in Northeast India wants to get married. Marriage happens by 'man capture' during the cotton harvest. Her male relatives attempt to capture a man for her although she has had lovers. A very dominant idea about India is that it's a land of hierarchies… of every single kind. This film about the India that we don't see; reverses some of the dominant images we see all the time about caste, gender and class differences. What does India look like as it is in some types of 'unseen fringes', where power shifts back and forth from individual to group, man to woman, the person behind the camera and the people in front of it? The narrative structure of the film observes Ratmi, the players behind her marriage, and the role of the filmmaker in 2000/2001 and again in 2006.

Screening was done amongst the Bachelor of education Students of St Xavier's College. Their responses were of diverse variety ...
  1. The gender roles amongst the tribal society are very difficult to understand. They vary so much according to tribes. In mainstream communities it is typically patrilineal and has ingredients of patriarchy and the tribal communities which are coming in close contact are also witnessing a change towards these characteristics.
  2. The custom of capture is is against the will of an individual. Even marriages by capture of tribal girls from the local market and forcible putting of sindur in the forehead, prevalent in many tribes of peninsular belt are being done away with.
  3. As educators one should keep in mind that the modern day education is also laden with values of the mainstream society. These need to be modified to suit/ give space to their cultural contexts. The overburdening of ‘our’ values to ‘them’ should be avoided.
  4. Any cultural practices which violate the human rights of an individual should be modified / rectified. This should be through proper dialogue otherwise the implementation of the ‘reform processes’ will not see its success.
  5. The beauty of the tribal community depicted is immense. Although the girl is not married and has children, the children are getting a space / acceptance in the community. Even the unmarried girl is not ‘in guilt’, and she is able to live her life.
  6. But still the questions are how long this acceptance from the community remains. What are the rights of the children with regard to property?
  7. The concept of marriage has a variety. There are number of forms in which one can marry. The live-in relationship converting into marriage is also one of the forms that have been prevalent for a long time in some of the tribes (it is a new phenomenon in mainstream communities).
  8. But the rights of individuals engaging in such informal relationships are still ‘not yet defined’. And there are quite many situations when such human rights issues do come up... Isn’t there a need to move towards formal marriages where there are more formal ways of coming together and also of separation, and the rights in such situations are more defined?
  9. Anthropological reflections as given in the documentary are very difficult to document unless you are accepted as an insider. The filmmaker stayed / visited there for quite some years before she could complete the film.
  10. Earlier such documentation was very difficult as the communication mediums had not developed and hand writing was the only option. Great work still was done and many books have been written by such anthropologists which are very valuable in documenting there customary practices. Now the digital tools help in making this documentation easier. But and insider / outsider, we / them... positions in such documentation still remains big challenge.
Will there be a time when more tribal youth will get empowered to handle / control the new digital communication tools to tell their story with their analysis?

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