Women’s Safety among the Mullu Kuruma

Women’s safety is not an alien concept to the Mullu Kuruma, a deeply patriarchal tribe in rural Kerala.

Though there have been numerous policies and regulations aimed at enhancing the safety of women in India, even the most modern cities in the country have not been able to significantly bring down crime against women. It is important to question how our social identity, culture, rituals and beliefs intersect with gender issues in our quest for equality. We present the rest of the article in Neethu Parvathy’s voice, as she reflects on her personal impressions over the course of a year during her ethnographic research on the Mullu Kuruma tribe.

Most tribal communities continue to staunchly cling to their cultural values even as the world around them is rushing towards “modernity.” Mullu Kuruma is a prominent Adivasi tribal community in Wayanad district of Kerala. Being a fully patriarchal tribe, they have strict gender identities and roles. Men occupy important positions, such as priests and the head of the tribe, while women are considered “impure” and are restricted from entering the clan temple or sacred groves. However, from a cultural relativism perspective, I explore the fascinating question of how they have navigated these practices without compromising on the safety of the women in the clan. What is it that an urban, “modern” populace cannot assure, but a rural “primitive” tribe, living close to nature, can? In my experience, it is the safety of women, as was corroborated by a 23-year-old woman from the tribe who said, “Though I love to visit cities and different places, I don’t think I can expect or enjoy the safety I feel here.”

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Updated On : 3rd Jan, 2020

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