Market in India where women run the show (7 photos)

10 June 2024

In India, in the city of Imphal there is a market called Ima Keitel, which has been run exclusively by women for 500 years. It is surprising, and this in a patriarchal country, in which a woman can still be married off without asking her opinion. And such a market where women are in charge!

It employs about 5 thousand women selling fabrics, clothing, decorative crafts and food.

Where did such a “hotbed of female power” come from in the middle of India?

It all started with a new law in the state of Manipur, of which Imphal is the capital. In 1533, Lallap-Kaba labor conscription was introduced here, a rather cruel law. According to it, a man had to either become a soldier or go to cultivate distant lands. That is, in any case, the women were left alone on their own.

Well, women often go to the market to buy groceries, although there are also men

They had to do everything on their lands themselves - grow rice, fabric, learn absolutely all professions. And so each woman studied some profession and began to sell its results on the initially spontaneous market.

The women's community quickly learned to survive and share the fruits of their labor. No one died or starved to death, the huge social experiment can be said to be a success.

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And when the British, who seized power in 1939, raised taxes and began to export goods from the region, it was the women, who were accustomed to calling the shots here, who raised rallies and began to organize strikes.

To disperse this “heap of women,” the British decided to sell the market building, but the women locked themselves in it, turning it into a fortress. And they even seized the presidential house in Imphal so that they were given the right to talk to the authorities.

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The British are at war with women

This is a piece of Indian history that actually requires film adaptation. And most importantly - based on real events.

British troops were ordered to open fire on the women. Then the whole city, including crippled men who were not taken to work, rebelled.

Some goods here are purchased on credit, and the credit is provided by the market itself. Such a mutual aid fund

The army had every chance to crush unarmed women, but then World War II began, and this greatly diverted the crown’s attention from India. So the women's community was saved purely by chance, and the market was preserved.

Modern women's market

The Ima Keitel market is still managed exclusively by women - they have been able to preserve the tradition. But there is one limitation - only married women can work there.

A quiet place to work because there are no problems with harassment, which have become increasingly worse in India in recent years.

This has been going on since that law 500 years ago, when women worked here whose husbands were suddenly forced into the army and deprived of food for the family.

The market is divided by a large road into two parts - on one side there is fish and fruit, on the other - carpets, clothes, textiles. Previously, this division played a completely different meaning, separating women from different castes and clans.

And yet, one can only envy how brightly the women of India dress.

But today this is all in the past; it is much more convenient to divide the market into rational sections according to the type of product.

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