Women and Matrimonial Property Rights: Prof. vibhuti Patel

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Due to biases in the family laws and male domination in the legal system, women don't get adequate property rights. Women’s Right to Land and Housing *has been major concern of the women’s movement in India for over two decades. Globally, women’s land rights are becoming an area of increasing urgency. In most societies, women have historically managed the unpaid care economy and fulfilled the responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, family care, collection of fuel, fodder, water, kitchen gardening, poultry and animal husbandry and provided food and nutritional security. As women’s contribution to the economy and society at large remains unrecognised, largely underpaid and mostly unpaid, the need for women to be able to secure land and property has become even more critical.

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Women & Matrimonial Property Rights :

8/31/2011 1 Women & Matrimonial Property Rights Dr. Vibhuti Patel, Director, PGSR Professor & Head, Post Graduate Department of Economics, SNDT Women’s University, Churchgate, Mumbai-400020. E-mail- vibhuti.np@gmail.com Phone-91-022-26770227®, 22052970 (O) Mobile-9321040048

Property Rights Based on Religious Personal Laws:

8/31/2011 2 Property Rights Based on Religious Personal Laws Unequal treatment to women in matters: marriage, divorce, maintenance, custody of child, alimony, right to stay in matrimonial or parental homes, land & property rights Customary laws- more than 30000 in India Laws concerning stamp duty on transfer of property

Macro Reality:

Macro Reality Women constitute of ½ of world’s population, do 2/3 of world’s work. In return, Women get 1/10th of world’s income and Own 1/100th of world’s wealth. The United Nations 8/31/2011 3

Women’s contribution to the economy:

Women’s contribution to the economy Women have historically managed the unpaid care economy and fulfilled the responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, family care, collection of fuel, fodder, water, kitchen gardening, poultry and animal husbandry and provided nutritional security. As women’s contribution to the economy and society at large remains unrecognised, largely underpaid and mostly unpaid, the need for women to be able to secure land and property has become even more critical. 8/31/2011 4

“Housewife” by Amrita Pritam:

“Housewife” by Amrita Pritam The housewife If the woman’s husband is asked What does his wife do The answer is “My wife does not work.” Then Who bears this world in her womb? Who gives birth to the farmers, the workers? Who cooks, washes, cleans and fills water? Looks after the child and the sick? Whose labour gives men leisure for liquor, tobacco and card session? Whose labour gives men their strength to go to work? Who labours without being noticed? Mutely working, without being paid, Without being appreciated ever------ 8/31/2011 5

Why the stress on Women’s Rights to Matrimonial Property?:

Why the stress on Women’s Rights to Matrimonial Property? Recognition of women’s work for unpaid care economy to lessen the threat of discrimination, different forms of violence- Domestic, community-based and societal denial of political participation, and other violations of their economic rights such as enterprise development, self employment 8/31/2011 6

Special Needs of Female Headed Households (FFH):

Special Needs of Female Headed Households (FFH) In the peaceful areas, 1/10th of the households are headed by divorced, deserted, single women. In the conflict prone areas 1/3 rd of the households are FFH. FHH are also the poorest of the poor. Even if they have money, they face hurdles while looking out for a rented place or a house on an ownership basis. Even among middle class, women’s status lowers after divorce-Gary Backer’s study 8/31/2011 7

Witch-hunting :

8/31/2011 8 Witch-hunting Property rights of wife, widows, deserted and divorced, co-wives Madness certificate Widows in Vrindavan, Kashi other religious places Vulnerability of elderly women Experiences of Kumbh Mela Will- conceptual & operational issues

Unethical Lawyers:

8/31/2011 9 Unethical Lawyers Cheating, fraud, double talk, betrayal, taking money from women as well as relatives/partners involved Threat and blackmail Wrong advise Striking a deal that would be advantageous to men and disadvantageous to women Intellectual corruption based on patriarchal bias Financial corruption governed by greed

Love Marriage:

8/31/2011 10 Love Marriage Inter-caste, inter-religious, inter-racial, inter-state marriages Even after social boycott from both the sides at the time of their marriage, after death of one of the spouses, family members from both sides claim property Ownership of flat Bank account/ fixed deposit/ornaments/children Maitri Karar & Seva karar

Housing and Land Rights:

8/31/2011 11 Housing and Land Rights Campaign by Shetakari Sangathana, Masum GR of Government of Maharashtra : If “Men of the household willing”, women can enjoy land and housing rights? Property Rights have been major concern of the women’s Movement in India for over two decades. When women’s groups started providing support to women in distress, its was relatively easier to find jobs and school-admission for children. The most difficult task was to get an accommodation for women victims of violence, desertion, rejection, fraud and cheating by relatives.

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005:

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 In the last 20 years, many women have filed petitions in the High Courts and the Supreme Court of India, demanding wife’s right to live in the matrimonial home Women’s identity is entwined with a house but housing’s identity as a capital investment and the largest outlay in the household budget lies with male head of the household. Whether women are or aren’t property owners, their place or sphere is considered to be within the house- cult of domesticity. Low status of women is perpetuated by the devaluation of domestic work. 8/31/2011 12

Desertion of women:

8/31/2011 13 Desertion of women Latur & Kutch Earth Quack Sunami Narmada Dam Kumbh Mela Mega Development Projects -displacement & Relocation -Land titles in the name of father, brother, husband, uncle, son -Powerful male bonding between talati, sarpanch , community leader, district commissioner, politician Women’s lack of security of tenure is the overarching concern of all those who believe that women’s rights are human rights.

Thank You:

8/31/2011 14 Thank You

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