Female Activist in Haryana Works Within System for Change

Over a cup of milky tea some months ago in a nondescript hotel in Rohtak, a dusty town of steel and oil mills, colleges and auto repair shops, Santosh Dahiya reflected on the slow-moving pace of change in the mostly rural state of Haryana.

She is the head of the women’s wing of the Sarve Khap, Sarve Jaatiya Mahapanchayat, an umbrella organization of khap panchayats, traditionally all-male unelected councils in north India that exercise a great deal of social control.

When she was a girl, she used to watch the men in her native village gather for meetings at which clan leaders and village elders would settle disputes: adultery in the family, domestic violence, even murder.

Though many have come to see the councils as oppressive, Haryana is virtually run by them, and Ms. Dahiya recalled marveling at how quickly the disputes were solved.

“The fear of being shamed before your own people is greater than being put in jail,” she said…read it at The New York Times.

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