The Mrs Arunachal crown eluded Gyamar Yal but becoming the second runner-up at a contest for bruised beauties is “better than being an abused second wife”.
Yal, a Nyishi tribal, revolted when her husband married her younger sister some time ago. Her rebellion invited physical and psychological abuse. “It was getting a bit too much,” she said.
Yal, 36, had the financial cushion of a government job to chart her own path unlike Yami Nayam, a Tagin tribal, who has been struggling to survive alone after walking out on her husband for bringing home another woman.
Nayam, 32, became the first runner-up at the first Mrs Arunachal beauty pageant held in Arunachal Pradesh’s capital Itanagar on Saturday.
Pageant organiser Ngurang Meena said it was the first-of-its-kind event for victims of polygamy, besides other crimes such as domestic violence, child marriage, forced marriage, rape and sexual harassment.
The winner was Hage Tado Nanya, a 59-year-old social activist from the Apatani tribe. Nanya was forced into marriage when she was three years old.
“But unlike most girls, I was lucky to have a supportive husband who has encouraged me to help other women in distress,” she said.
“Fourteen of 18 finalists, shortlisted from 30 contestants, suffered in polygamous marriages. They have been bold to voice their problems and take to the ramp for their fight for laws that make polygamy a criminal offence across all religious and ethnic communities,” Meena said on Sunday.
The statement, she added, has attained significance when the country is debating the applicability of uniform civil code.
Arunachal Pradesh has 140 tribes and sub-tribes. Polygamy is practised by some of these tribesmen with political, administrative and financial clout.