The villages of Lawa and Lamga in Athang gewog have an intetesting practice. The women are the boss. They decide on matters related to family and community. It is one of last matrilineal communities in Bhutan. At all public meetings, the households are represented by women. They come, they decide and things move.
In the years since I started working in this valley, I have noticed that this tradition has been maintained while it has waned in other nearby communities.
The eldest sister inherits the family house, known as the ma-khim. Literally meaning “mother-house”, the terminology itself indexes to the supremacy of the females. Other sisters, if any, are entitled for a house too and the father (if he wants to be respected as THE man) has to build them.
A man marries into the family as maap (son in-law) and traditionally does not get anything grom his ma-khim. And this practice of entering the home of the wife “empty-handed” also constributes to a less equal status to the wife.
Another interesting fact. There is no concept of pha-zhi (which means father’s farm) as practised in other parts of Bhutan because there was no land holding in the past. Much of the land was on a share-cropping basis.
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