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Monday, February 6, 2023
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EditorialWomen’s right to inheritance

Women’s right to inheritance

The recent Supreme Court ruling, while celebratory on the outlook of it, serves as a brutal reality check of how women are treated as second class citizens in our society. The SC bench hearing the case ruled in favour of two sisters who were deprived of their rightful inheritance in their father’s property for over 38 years. For more than three decades, the brother – the so-called heir apparent of the household – had managed to remain in possession of the inheritance, which was to be legally in accordance with the law of the land as well as Islam to be divided among the seven children – six of them daughters.

The brother had, however, managed to manipulate the lawsuit filed by the sisters, by claiming that the property was accorded to him as a gift by his father on the last day of his life, for so long that only two of them had survived at the time of the ruling in their favour. What is worse is that the ordeal for the sisters did not end with the ruling. Considering that the possession of the property was with the brother, an execution had to be filed to retrieve it. “This is most unfortunate. First, retaining by fraudulent means the property and then compelling his sisters/their legal heirs to retrieve their God-ordained share by filing execution proceedings,” the order of the judgment read.

But such is the faith of women in this country. While the constitution allows for their due rights in some cases, the society deprives them of it. Cases of women having to forgo their rightful inheritance are in abundance and many do not even opt for the legal course for it – either owing to the financial cost of it, the delay it takes as noticed in the case mentioned above, or due to lack of awareness. It is then upon the state apparatus to create awareness about women’s rights enshrined in the constitution as well as making the process less cumbersome. But the onus also lies upon the society to fix this broken system where men and women are treated unequally so much so that even women internalized it to the extent that they do not even stand up for their due rights. Unless we change such a mindset starting from our households, women will continue to be treated as lesser beings.

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