“Mein kaisey zameen mein apna hisa mang saktee hon? Mera bhai mujhy kafan nahi day ga”..How can I claim inheritance? Whilst I will be denial the burial by my brother”. Such are the statement of many nameless women who along with their male relatives come to the offices of the Tehsildars and Sub registrars and renounce their right to the inheritance. All attempts even if made to pursue them to claim their right are weak in the face of stronger fear of ex-communication from the particular family, caste or creed. The few who are able to defy the pressure of family or want to re establish their right to the inherited land are destined for a very long struggle in the avenues of justice. In the bright 21st millennia, Pakistan, this is the routine conversation of the women who are more than often deprived of their legal and religious right to the share in property. Although the Government has amended the Land proprietary laws to make it mandatory to automatically commence the partition of land proceedings among the inheritors upon the death of the land owner. However, more than often women gift or withdraw their share in wake of their being shunned by their male relatives.
As late as 1960s , the land records got maintained upon the customary law as introduced by the British Raj in Pre partition India, that did not recognize the women as legal inheritor and the family trees or Shajra Nasab required for keeping the record of land omitted the name of women so as to deny existence of them. One finds women only included when the men wanted them to be. Since 1960, the land record started to be maintained according the Islamic law of inheritance and inclusion of the women in the land ownership was institutionalized. This apparent right to property to women was then twisted by either depriving then forcefully or manipulating them to gift the property to their male relatives. Few women belonging to the rural backgrounds take up enough courage to stand up in the face of this injustice and that too is a very long struggle in the wake of the current justice system.
Interestingly the middle class urban women are found more meeker in seeking their inheritance rights. I have found it amusing that neither the lower or the upper class is as concerned with putting up a face in the society than the middle class. The ease with which women give up their inheritance rights is as astonishing as their ambivalent knowledge of the right. While talking with an educated friend , I came to know her views that she does not have the slightest idea that women do have a right in the property of their father since it’s an accepted norm in their family that since daughters get dowry they don’t get any portion of property of their father. The debate about women inheritance rights is never brought to the front lines of a society that is staunchly exists on the basis of a traditional class and creed structure. The religion s extremist version that rules the echelons of our society is limited to the extents that relegate the women to the status of the second sex.
Modern women pacified with the superficial freedom limited to clothes, right to education, jobs and becoming an object of affection for their prospective husbands, do not educate themselves about their more important primary rights that are even supported by their religion. While moving through the pages of history , one wonder how many women have gone nameless and how many more will go down the same road.