So why don’t Indian women fight for their own ancestral property rights?

In the previous posts women were being advised to claim their inheritance instead of a share from their husband’s inheritance. Why don’t women do that?

Maybe because, the way Indian sons are raised to be Shravan Kumar, Indian daughters are raised to be Paraya Dhan, the conditioning is too deeply ingrained. 

Unlike Indian men (ghar ka chiraag, budhape ka sahara, Shravan Kumar) most Indian women (paraya dhan, family’s honor) believe (and they are often right) they have no automatic rights to identity, inheritance or a roof over their heads. Many Indian women don’t know that they own their uterus. What Indian women are raised to fight for, is the  generosity and the good will of their brothers and in laws, who have rights.

A society that denies nutrition, education and self reliance to women, how do you think do they react to demands for their share in inheritance?

One father said, “When it’s time to go (die) then we remember only the son, so it is only fair to leave the house to the son… daughters have to go to their homes, and if we have raised them well, they will get enough there.”

Indian sons, it seems, don’t have to be raised well to ‘get enough’.

Here’s a little story I recently heard (roughly translated from Hindi).

A very nice daughter in law had three sisters and three brothers. They lost their dad and as is the custom, the three brothers asked the three sisters to sign away their share of inheritance. There was some conversation amongst the sisters who had been very good till then, they had never created trouble for their brothers till then. It looked like greed would make them consider refusing to sign.

They were not very rich, the sisters had been married without any dowries, into decent families where they had won over the wealthier in laws with their obedience and adjustments. There wasn’t much for the brothers to share [IHM: Maybe, most of it was the dowry that their wives brought].

One of the damaad (sons in law) who is respected by all and is also the wealthiest of all [IHM: It’s not a coincidence that the wealthiest was also the most respected] said, “She will sign of course.”

The other two sisters had no one to support them now even if they had any need, greed or bad intentions. The middle one did look like a trouble maker, but these girls probably realised these brothers are the ones who will bring bhaat [IHM: Bhaat is a ritual that can probably be paid-for with the sisters’ inheritance] for their daughters’s weddings, why antagonise them for greed?

[IHM: Please note, daughters’ impending weddings are always an achilles’ heels for Indian parents] And anyway the sensible girl knew what she had in her in laws house was much more than what she would have for from her parents brothers.

Now if the respected damaad knew that his wife could legally have a share in the house he owned and they lived in, would he have been so quick to ask her to sign away whatever little of inheritance she had? Maybe then she would not have needed his permission to claim or to give up her inheritance.

He meant to be generous perhaps, but would the generosity extend to giving the wife her rightful share in what they made together [link]? Or is it easier to be Generous than to be Equal? Because generosity can be withheld, equality is a right. And a dependent spouse who has nowhere to go is more likely to continue to adjust.

What do you think would have happened if the sisters had refused to sign? What were their options?

Here are some reactions to daughters claiming their inheritance.

1. “Women are forced by in-laws to get share in her parents property. This creates a divide between brothers and sisters.”

Daughters are eligible for share in fathers property but are not bound to give maintenance to parents. This creates a divide between brothers and sisters. Our social ethics are breaking due to the law. Such laws encourage greed. Women are forced by in-laws to get share in her parents property.

2. Haryana panchayat cuts off married girls from parents’ property

The panchayat resolution states: “Every girl will have to part with her share of parental land and hand it over to her brothers. If she has no brother, she will give it to other family members at her parental home.

On paper daughters have property rights, if the daughters try to claim this right, they can be ostracized or killed.

3. This comment:

My mother was made to sign an affidavit giving up her claim to my grandfather’s property . By her brother. Forget legal action,she isn’t even mad/pissed about it.

4. A lot more clarity here –

A Desi girl’s guide to relationship survival: Her Marital Home: His Inherited Property

Related Posts:

“Is it possible that some women secretly want a dowry – perhaps to enhance their social standing?”

60 thoughts on “So why don’t Indian women fight for their own ancestral property rights?

  1. I think the brothers and parents have to play a better role here. They need to understand that a woman is not cut away from their family tree after her marriage. That seems too convenient for everyone. And a woman asking for her share us not a bad sister or child. She is just asking for what is rightfully hers.
    How many times have we heard of a brother giving up his parents’ property for his sister?

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    • I think the marriage system needs to change for this. No more ‘kanyadaan’, no more default position of woman moving into the man’s parents’ home and no more name changing. Nuclear families could easily leave these relics behind because both the man and the woman ‘move’. This business with ‘they have to go to their own home’ needs to stop.. no one says that about men and they get married too. Only these fundamental changes will put a stop to ideas of women being cut off from their own family trees.

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      • Yes! Completely agree. What’s with the ‘kanyadaan’ anyway? This whole concept of a woman being being ‘given away’ during the wedding by her father (to whom? her new ‘owners’ – her husband and in-laws?) – is so archaic and ridiculous!
        When I got married, I was determined to have the priest NOT perform that part of the wedding ceremony. But in the hustle bustle of things, I forgot to stress this part to the priest and what with all the Sanskrit flying around (that I could not understand), I think it was still done. What made it seem even weird was that the entire wedding ceremony was funded entirely by me and my husband because a. we are individually financially independent and could afford it and b. we did not think it was right to expect parents to squander away their retirement income for this purpose. Also we support our parents financially whenever needed (they never ask for help themselves, we offer it when appropriate).

        And yet there I was at my wedding – being ‘given away’ by my father. WTH!!!

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    • In my extended family, it went totally on a “need” basis (for lack of better word) – the siblings who were doing better than the rest gave up their ancestral property to the less-wealthy. The least wealthy happened to be a sister.

      Just my 2c and my family, of course. This may not be representative.

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  2. @Amit,
    We have to remember the fathers and brothers are also husbands. Isn’t it time we desis started asking the right questions, what does it mean to be a man and a man in relationship with women through blood and marriage?
    What is the cost of being a man who oppresses women related to him by blood and marriage? Is this how they want to live in 21st century?
    You have raised a valid question now the next step will be to pose this challenge to the men you know.
    Peace,
    Desi Girl

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  3. I have been reading the past 2-3 blog posts on inheritance laws and am mixed about them for various reasons. I know and understand many people are not happy with these laws.

    Yes, these laws can be misused by manipulative women. But then, aren’t there equal or more manipulative men who misuse the law? What about all the politicians. Why should women behave like gods while it is okay for men to misuse the law? Why are men crying on how evil women will penalize men and take away their property? How many cases do you know and think how man cases exist of men & their families abusing the woman. Aren’t the girl’s parents spending money on the wedding. Giving gifts? Controlling the wife/DIL?

    I do not support laws which give unfair advantage to a gender/caste etc. But then do we live in a fair equal society? Nope. If women were treated as equals, yes, I do not want such laws. But that is not the case.

    At the same time, I am skeptical of such laws because Indian constitution is so big and how many of the laws are even implemented properly? I am always skeptical of such band aid measures to appease the population. Frankly, if you were to ask me, who wants to go through years in the justice system? Only rich people can afford it and this means most women who need it would not benefit from this. Other countries may not have as gender equal laws as India but in reality, they have more gender equality on ground. Maybe, some women can use this law when their in laws threaten to throw them out. But why do women want to live such unhappy lives except due to conditioning?

    We need to change the conditioning in the society. In terms of law, I believe the govt. should focus on basic education for all, swift justice in dowry deaths, letting people divorce swiftly and not morally preaching to them to be like sita, improve safety for women on the streets, training their police, revamping the syllabus to include sex ed and gender sensitivity in general if they really want to usher in gender equality instead of these band aid measures which do not get implemented properly anyways. How many more laws does out constitution need?

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    • You are not getting the point. We are not talking about misuse of the law. It’s proper use also anti-men, because women don’t deserve a share in man’s pre-marital earning and ancestral property, because she don’t have any contribution towards that. And the marital property must be the share of both wife and husband not only husbands money (in case of wife is doing job and earning).

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      • The society is anti women. Most marriages for Many women in India is anti women. Dowry & gifts are anti women. Many Indian Men don’t deserve a free maid. Men do not deserve to live with their parents while their wives do not. Men do not deserve to have their wives look after their parents while wives cannot. So many men do not deserve to get married because they are boys.

        Talk about deserving? Anybody can make such lopsided statements. You did not get my comment either. I did write I am not supportive of this law and I quoted several other laws that needed to be made.

        Yes, men are being shortchanged by many of these laws but that % of men is 500% less than the women being shortchanged just because they are women and no human deserves to be treated in a inferior fashion for life because of what they are born as. That is precisely people in blog are fighting for.

        Nobody ever said men are shit in this blog. What we are saying is women are people too and we deserve certain rights. But many people are so used to women being dumb maids, it is shocking when women start asking for their rights because all along they thought women were meant to obey and not ask.

        Instead of judging the law in isolation, taken in social context of India it may be necessary.

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  4. I think it is very important that women get full and equal share in the property. But one has to understand why this disparity exists and makes sense to many people. It is because sons are supposed to be providers and the ones taking care of the parents. Many women also perpetuate these roles, sometimes for selfish interests. They will wash their hands when it comes to shouldering financial burden but will be up with the slogan of equality when they stand to gain. Given a choice, who wouldn’t, However, I believe one has to address at both ends of the problem simultaneously and independently. The law must always uphold equality; the social norms will follow.

    My wife received some amount from her father some time after our wedding. I am not sure how much but large enough,that she used that money to buy some small property. When he passed away, there was question of the care for my ailing mom-in-law and my SIL, who is heavily dependent on care because of some medical problems. I literally begged my wife to ask them to move with us but she wouldn’t agree, nor was she ready for us to move with them. For her, it was solely his brother’s duty to take care of them, who happened to be living abroad with his family. He had to come back, enduring quite a bit disturbance in his life and family. Now they are going to sell their house and get a new one. Does my wife really deserve to get a share? I think not.

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    • I know an equal number of daughters who are against dowry and received none, got no inheritance either (generously signed away to brother/s) and are looking after the parents. Some are not earning, some are, but in all such cases, the parents are able to support themselves financially. It seems parents feel guilty in denying the sons their inheritance (irrespective of elder care received). But the concept of inheritance is still new and many parents feel the daughters get the spouse’s inheritance anyway. Like in this case, ‘My wife will inherit my family’s property, her brothers too will share their property with their respective wives.’
      https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/my-wife-will-inherit-my-familys-property-her-brothers-too-will-share-their-property-with-their-respective-wives/

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      • I am not doubting that. I am just pointing out a social norm because of which this disparity exists. The concept of paraya dhan. I found it totally ridiculous that my wife thought that she would have to answer to people ( strangers, neighbors, relatives that we may encounter once in the life time) why the mother is living with a married daughter. My point is that women will have to pick up their end of the deal for the equality to work. Apparently, many ( though not all and probably not even most) people do give inheritance to daughters here sticking to 2:1 Islamic ratio in favor of boys and this is what I suppose my wife would still get from other (non-residential) ancestral property.

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        • 2 for sons, 1 for daughters is not equal. Maybe that is why daughters and parents feel this way. Unless they give equal, they are not breaking the norm of care by sons and daughters belong to in laws. Maybe once the biggest hurdle (equality in inheritance) is crossed, the rest would follow? Just thinking aloud.

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        • “My point is that women will have to pick up their end of the deal for the equality to work.”

          Obviously and if parents didn’t treat them as paraya from the get go, if they didn’t have to be a slave to a house full of strangers upon marriage and were free to make their own decisions, just as many women would look after parents as men. Men are not especially parent-loving and women are not especially parent-hating. Given equal circumstances and incentives, you get the same behaviour from men and women. The idea that women will somehow get all the rights and not fulfil responsibilities is baseless.

          Oh and 2:1 is not fair or equal. It might be mutually agreed upon, given our social customs, but it is not ‘fair’.

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    • Just to clarify, its not that my wife did not care about her mother but she also cared a lot about social taboos as did her mother. The point is she opted not to challenge the social taboo when she had the option of taking an easy way out, while she would challenge them when some thing directly affects her.

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      • Did she get an equal share in inheritance? I feel if parents give an equal share to their daughters, they would feel less hesitant in letting them provide elder care. Many parents give what they feel is a fair amount, but not as much as they give to the son.

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        • I think that is how it works mostly. They give what they think is a fair share and that is how she was given from previous sales. Their family is planning to sell some other property and they talk among themselves about it. I am not really sure how they gonna divide it but I think they will follow some mutually agreed fair share formula.

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      • B,
        1. We could argue this from a chicken and egg perspective- what came first? The rule that sons will provide elder care? Or the rule that only sons will inherit?
        How easy is it for a woman already living with inlaws to demand to*also* care for her parents in that house? How many women (even in nuclear units) have husbands and parents who will accept this arrangement?

        In a society with disempowered women, how can you blame these rules, or even place the burden of changing these rules on the women? If a woman does not care for her parents the way her brother does, it is because she is actively conditioned and disempowered not to.

        Parents and brothers treat their daughters and sisters as paraya dhan, before, after, and during marriage in a million subtle and unsubtle ways,in childhood and adulthood AND then have the nerve to complain when they do begin to behave as paraya.
        Can’t have your cake and eat it too!

        2. You’re right in saying that division of parental property could be on the basis of who cared most for them. But equally important is the need to ensure that there is some measure of equal footing. For siblings of different genders, and of different circumstances.
        However, when it comes to property that your parents themselves inherited, don’t you think it merits a unbiased and fair division? Sadly even this does not happen, and women get the short straw even here.

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        • “If a woman does not care for her parents the way her brother does, it is because she is actively conditioned and disempowered not to.”

          Also because their parents probably did not treat them the way they treated their brothers. In south asia, daughters are killed, fed less, educated less, not given any personal freedom, taught to be a wife and treated as ‘paraya’. Many women I personally know have all the loyalty to their parents that any son could and looked after them in later life. These were usually women who WERE given equal opportunities by their parents and who were educated and financially independent. You reap what you sow, basically.

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    • @B

      “Does my wife really deserve to get a share? I think not.”

      Bad and good children can be of either gender (however you judge bad and good). But no one asks if a man ‘really deserves’ to get a share or if a man ‘really deserves’ to keep his name. These are automatic rights that sons get and do not have to earn. Why should it be any different for women?

      That is not equality. I should have to go the extra mile for something that my husband gets as a birth right.

      For your one example of a woman no wanting to look after her parents, I personally also know of sons not wanting to or not being able to look after their parents.. I personally also know of daughters who looked after their parents despite having brothers. I personally would leave no stone unturned for my parents. I shouldn’t have to prove that to anyone to get equal rights to a man!

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  5. Yes both sons and daughters should get an equal share, it hold be “all children get an equal share”. You birthed them the same way right or did the sons fall painlessly from heaven into your laps, mine didn’t .

    But what would you do in my case IHM?
    I left my parental home , I was asked to choose between my husband (then to be husband) and family. A very eligible husband I might say🙂 I choose him. Now if my parents dived their property should I be eligible to get a third (3siblings).
    I don’t think so. But I know my parents don’t ave a will, so in effect I can contest it?
    That is just not right,
    Parents should treat thir children equally but thy can leave their inheritance to whom they please. Especially if thy have earned it.

    We need to change the mindset of parents and octet, marriage is not mandatory state or necessity, only food, clothing, shelter is, and the mess to acquire it. If this sinks in most of our problems will go away.

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        • My dad did earn a fair bit of money but he and my mom too also inherited quite a bit from their wealthy parents. land and mostly lots of GOLD. My mom’s parents were drs and my dad’s were engineers and my dad was the eldest and yes they did care for both sets of parents in their last days. mostly my grandparents were very independent till their late 80’s and lived in a diff city .
          When i walked out my grandmom ( dad’d mom) was not in agreement with my dad and actually wanted to give me her share of jewellery , but my parents didn’t and I convinced her not to antagonise my mom and dad. She was very unhappy with her sons and DIL’s behavior since she did not see anything wrongin my choice, it was a pure egp issue everywhere i guess.
          When she dies she willed the jewels to me. ( yep she was quite the lady) and it was registered too. so no one else claimed it. it sits in her locked which was transfered to my name and i have the keys and access. ( my brother ensured i got it) much to my parents disaproval. i havne not yet got the courage or need to open it , I should as a respect to my grandmom, but i have no need of that, i own plenty of jewellry my own and my MIL’s too much in fact which i hope to pass on to my DIL’s .
          My brother wanted me to get an dfight for an equal share in my grandparents property since it was inherited but my other brother supports my dad.
          I think ansectral property should be split among grandkids equally but i personally dont feel i’m eligible for that since in my mind when i walked out i disinherited them all . people and property, to me they dont exist. it’s not rigth but thats how i feel.
          Now my parents was us to be together, they want access to their grandkids and are willing to give me everything and forget it all, but unfortunately for me i feel no need fo r the tamasha, we split an dthat was that. no hard feelings no love either. we could at best be friends.

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    • Unfortunately, Indians beleive that , for a woman, Marriage is the sole means of ensuring the three basic necessities in life,i.e., food clothing and shelter.For most of the rural uneducated population of India, the above is true.

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  6. psharmarao (on facebook): Indian girls are made to believe that their biggest virtue is SACRIFICE and they keep doing it for one relationship or the other al their lives. I know girls who live in financial mess but still do not claim their share in the ancestral property to maintain good will with their brothers and bhabhis.

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    • Let them claim their property. Why they want unnecessary good will with their brothers and bhabhis but unnecessarily harsh on her husband. Just because he divorced her? or she want to divorce him? What crime a man did here? Is marrying women a crime for man? Is husband a criminal?

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    • The first bond any child has in this world (without any choice for him/her) is with the parents and so irrespective of the gender of the child I believe each child must have equal rights and responsibilities here.
      A DIL and son are expected to provide elderly care and inherit the property in a man’s family but why can’t a son-in-law and daughter be equally responsible for the elderly care of the wife’s parents and also equally entitled to the property there.

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  7. IHM: A society that denies nutrition, education and self reliance to women, how do you think do they react to demands for their share in inheritance?

    At first husbands also denied so many right to women, isn’t it? No divorce for women, even if he beat her, she has to accept his violent behavior. Now, feminists made laws and pressuring police and govt to take women friendly actions. And they got divorce law, anti-dowry law, and DV law and demanding men to not to do all these things isn’t it? then why don’t women do the same thing with their parents too. So, they can simply treat their daughters also as equal? Why to punish bechara husband for no fault of him?

    IHM: Only if your parens deny you equal inheritance because you are a daughter would I say they are being unfair, otherwise it is their hard earned wealth, they do what they please with it.
    Wow, IHM. If it earned by father, it’s his hard erned money, he must have right to deny share to daughter. But, if it is husband’s money or his ancestral money or earned by his father they don’t have any such right. I am taking screen shot of this classical example, this answer deserves it. Hats off to you.

    I read some of your posts and comments previously, but I never see these kind of double standards previously.

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    • There are no double standards.

      1. Husband and wife are partners, they create wealth together – it’s called Joint Matrimonial Property. Both own it or should have equal rights to what they make during the marriage. If they live in a Joint Family the they do not have a house of their own because of this – then the house they live in is their house too. Then this is their matrimonial property and it would be wrong to throw one family member out of it.

      2. The husband’s father can deny him inheritance too, that’s his right too. But what if the couple lives with the parents? They can ask the couple to make their own house and move there.
      What if there is a divorce?

      ‘In case of marital discord women have been thrown out of joint families in the middle of night and when they ask for spousal or child support men wash their hands of the responsibility by saying the house belonged to the family and he like her was just living there thus has nothing to give her. If she insists the man seek his coparcenary rights and take his share of property and then give her what is rightfully her due be it a room or an amount that would be half of what his share amounted to. The “karta” the head of the family, father of the man can immediately alienate/disinherit the man from his coparcener rights thanks to HSA 1956 in order to prevent the daughter-in-law from begetting anything. It is more complex than it is visible to our eyes. It is basically about primary residence of the married couple during the entire duration of the marital union no matter where it is, in the extended family or ancestral house they live in and other family members may be living abroad.’

      Find more clarity here:

      ‘Her Marital Home: His Inherited Property’

      http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/her-marital-home-his-inherited-property/

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    • “Now, feminists made laws and pressuring police and govt to take women friendly actions. And they got divorce law, anti-dowry law, and DV law and demanding men to not to do all these things isn’t it?”

      How often are these laws even followed through? Have you seen the state of the judicial system in India? These laws exist, but in effect barely do anything. There is still a disproportionate number of husbands who get away with beating their wives. There is still a significant faction of our society that think it’s alright for men to abuse women and deny them their basic human rights. You’re sitting here worried about people abusing laws, but women are worried as to whether or not the laws that are made to protect them will even be implemented to start with. You’re putting too much faith in a system that has been broken for a long time.

      “then why don’t women do the same thing with their parents too. So, they can simply treat their daughters also as equal?”

      Just because the parents treat their daughters are equals doesn’t mean the husbands shouldn’t as well. You cannot have one at the expense of the other. You cannot have husbands disregarding their wives’ human rights just because her parents treat her as an equal. For a society to function, EVERYONE must treat EVERYONE as equals. What are you suggesting, that we remove those laws? That we allow husbands to mistreat women as they see fit with no repercussions from the law? Well, there are no serious repercussions anyway, so what difference does it make to you?

      Also, fathers are also husbands. If they won’t treat their wives as equals, what are the odds that they will treat their daughters as equals?

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  8. Both own it or should have equal rights to what they make during the marriage.
    So you are not for share in property man earn before the marriage? or you have another excuse for it?

    Husband and wife earn jointly. ok. how they earn jointly? because women do work in husband’s house. What about daughters? don’t you think they work too in father’s family? And it is parent’s duty to raise daughter and provide her sufficient amount to live. Isn’t it? What if daughter also earning and she contributed to the property of her father before marriage? Isn’t it her right and father’s duty to give her share? What if she has ancestral property which was earned by forefathers? She must get her property, isn’t it? Here also many complicated issues arises, If you see carefully or if you willing to see.

    So, as per your logic, Men must disown their ancestral property also. Because they need not inherit it. Until the old aged parents alive or the divorce over and alimony settlement is over. That’s a good option.

    If man stayed in rented house, the holy women entered into that house and stayed with him and did all the contribution, so she must get a share in that rented house also. Because, at any time the man can throw her out of the home, otherwise. From the day this law passed, may be house owners don’t give houses for rent to a family perhaps. The man live in joint family but don’t own the house has no right to ask a share in it, and the wife also don’t have right to share it.

    In the first place, the concept of matrimonial home itself is absurd topic. If a woman get divorce, she must leave the house immediately. No share in the house, which is hard earned money of some one, and she didn’t do any so-called contribution to that. If they feel women don’t find a shelter after divorce, ask government to open some rehabilation centers and join women there. Why a man need to give his house for a women, who may be cheater, who may ba a violent abuser, who may be a wealthier than him. Or go back to their parent’s home, Where she have share in the property.

    A man earns before the marriage, he earns same after the marriage. The contribuition of wife is not actual contribution. She came there and living there her life. She is just providing some comforts to the man and enjoying the same comforts there.

    IHM – //And it is parent’s duty to raise daughter and provide her sufficient amount to live. Isn’t it? What if daughter also earning and she contributed to the property of her father before marriage? //
    It’s the parents duty to raise their children, both sons and daughters and make them self reliant.

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    • Then why they are leaving the daughter to her husband’s mercy? If the same thing applicable for men, then why a man need to take his share in the property weather it is father’s earnings or ancestral property and lose that share to so-called contributor (wife)

      IHM: Because they believe that an Indian daughter’s only goal in life is to Get married and Stay married or die trying. They raise the daughter for this future, how she walks, talk,s laughs, what subjects she studies, what kind of jobs she accepts, who she befriends – everything is decided keeping in mind this future. The approval of her future husband and in laws is what decides whether or not a girl child gets a chance to live and be educated. If the parents doubt they have enough dowry for this same future- they don’t want a daughter. Is it surprising they want her to save her marriage? The solution is to let daughters see that there is a life for them and that marriage is a part of that life – that marriage is not her entire life.

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        • There would be problem with the husband if he fails to see the wife as a partner and sees her as someone who is supposed to provide him certain services, like house keeping, child bearing and rearing, elder care giving etc.

          Also if he fails to see that she is contributing whether or not she is earning. Irrespective of her earning capability or her dowry, they are equal in the marriage. Being equal means if they are living in a house that shelters them, it shelters them both. If they are living in a house they have made themselves, it belongs to both and it is not fair for one to be able to throw the other out.

          I also agree with Desi Girl, those who are abusive to their spouse may also be abusive to their parents and siblings. Frequently the same people might try to claim their siblings’ share of inheritance. Ofcourse since men have tradition and custom on their side, it might be easier for them to do this.

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  9. 1. An Indian man who is raised to believe that he( and not his sisters) is responsible for his parents’ welfare in his old age and he wants to live with his parents post-marriage out of fear(not out of choice) of being called an ‘ungrateful son’ –> There is no excuse for his social conditioning(as there shouldn’t be)–Standard response–” How can he do that? Does he not have a spine? Why does he get married then?”

    2. An Indian woman who is raised to believe that she will eventually move into her husband’s house. When she lives in a joint family, she does not plan for any alternate property investments with her husband out of fear of being called a ‘homebreaker’–” Poor woman, she was ‘raised to’, ‘not allowed to’, ‘taught to’ believe that way. It is not easy to break free of such societal expectations, what can she do?” Now, this response is an excuse for the results of her social conditioning( which it shouldn’t be).
    THIS double standard ( from the responses to the first post “Should women be given a share in residential property of the husband, including inherited and inheritable property?” ) is what leaves me appalled.

    I understand if it is quoted as a reason but I cannot understand how a woman can be excused if she acts stupidly as a result for her social conditioning but a man doesn’t have the same leeway. I think NO ONE (man or woman) should have any kind of leeway. And worse, laws are formed to account for our stupid compliance to even-more-stupid social norms. Where is the personal accountability then if we can all go around taking silly decisions based on society’s expectations and then hope the law will be there to save our necks if something misfires?

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    • It sounds as if you are saying that men and women in India face a similar consequences for defying societal norms.
      Also, excuse me if I’m mistaken , but it also seems to me that you are saying that men and women are oppressed *equally* by traditional customs.
      Erm.
      I don’t know how this escapes notice but the same culture also rewards men so richly for being ‘traditional’ and taking care of parents(dowry, head of the family status, inheritance)- that many men do not mind playing along.

      Also, social conditioning is an explanation and not an excuse.

      Finally,personal accountability does not exist in a vacuum. You cannot be held accountable for decisions that you are even allowed to make.

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      • I am not saying that men and women face the same consequences.

        It is just that women are again ‘taught to’ take the consequences to heart more than men. I personally have beaten myself up over many issues( with my family) and worried myself to death over perceived consequences which I should have just chosen to disregard. I could not do that because I was conditioned to ‘worry’ about what the society thinks. I wish I (and many more of my female friends) had it it in us to resist the emotional drama which our parents/in-laws come up with. The fact that I didn’t is my problem, not the law’s problem. Now if i am physically threatened and if I am not physically strong to resist the abuse, then I think it is necessary to look to the law for assistance. Because physical pressure is not relative; it is pretty black and white. But my emotional failings are mine and mine alone and moreover, emotional failings are highly relative. What I may consider a highly emotionally pressurizing situation might be a cake-walk to another woman. I do not understand how/ why it is reasonable to account for the emotional quotients of different people( in this case, only women) while framing a law. This is where the personal accountability comes in.

        As for ‘not being allowed to make decisions’, that is not true IMO. In most cases, not many people are (physically) forbidden from taking a decision; we are emotionally forced to do so. Aren’t we responsible for our own emotional soundness?

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        • ” I do not understand how/ why it is reasonable to account for the emotional quotients of different people( in this case, only women) while framing a law. This is where the personal accountability comes in. ”
          Completely agree.
          I am all for the law treating Indian women as adults . However, many laws serve to further infantilise the Indian woman and treat her with all sorts of exceptions that seem out of place in modern democracy where all adults are supposed to be equal. Ofcourse , from a position of privilege, it can seem insulting (it does to me).

          However,there are precedents , even in other democracies, of using the law to correct historical and cultural injustice does to certain groups, at the expense of the rest, and I suppose in India women do qualify, as a group against whom major social injustices have been carried out in the last century.
          Thus,in an attempt to engineer social change, lawmakers have legislated on everything from dowry, inheritance and abuse. Of this, only the last one is truly a “physical” crime. Dowry and unequal inheritance are primarily financial and/or emotional.

          Real social change is decades behind the law in many parts of India,except in certain pockets-ours-where our society seems ahead of such unequal laws. Again, I personally am against including inheritable/inherited property in divorce settlements, irrespective of gender, because it seems unfair to me personally, but I also accept that these laws are not aimed at women like me.

          As for decision making, yeah, nobody physically prevents decision making, but there may be physical consequences to a decision you make. That surely influences the decision.

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  10. I want to share my sisters story here. She was married to a fellow who robbed my dad of lakhs in the name of ‘dowry’, ‘help for business’ etc. My sis was abused. She kept silent until she couldnt hide for reasons such as didnt want to hurt parents, didnt want to ruin her younger sisters’ life- all the usual reasons.

    She was publicly humiliated- he said she doesnt know ‘how to please a man’. This happened when there was a family meeting of the elders & busurkh to discuss and settle the issues (only then the relatives started supporting her bcz they saw his true colors- until then it was ‘adjust…’ ‘hota hai’ bla bla bla.)

    Even though shes financially independent she filed a case for alimony… Her reasons- 1. He cheated dad of a huge amount. 2. Though I dont want a penny from him, im no one to deny my child’s right. So after 3-4 years, she was awarded Rs. 1000 a month.
    True to her word, she hasnt touched the money and will give it to her son once he’s 18.
    She has married again & lives happily with the man who loves my nephew like his own.

    Oh and the drama, the ex-husband used to come to court in cheap clothes with a tear here and there and sometimes with no chappal to gain the sympathy of judge.
    Now we giggle about it.

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  11. I have been reading your posts centred on the property rights . Long back I had written a poem on the same topic read it and remember its not about daughter in law , daughter or wife or sister or mother ITS ABOUT WOMAN . No one wants a woman to be on her own or set up a home of their own because homes are made by man and woman are there just to run these homes . ITS NOT A WOMANS RIGHT TO MAKE A HOME

    http://mypoemsmyemotions.blogspot.in/2011/07/blog-post.html
    घर बनाने का अधिकार नारी का नहीं होता

    घर बनाने का अधिकार
    नारी का नहीं होता
    घर तो केवल पुरुष बनाते हैं
    नारी को वहाँ वही लाकर बसाते हैं
    जो नारी अपना घर खुद बसाती हैं
    उसके चरित्र पर ना जाने कितने
    लाछन लगाए जाते हैं

    बसना हैं अगर किसी नारी को अकेले
    तो बसने नहीं हम देगे
    अगर बसायेगे तो हम बसायेगे
    चूड़ी, बिंदी , सिंदूर और बिछिये से सजायेगे
    जिस दिन हम जायेगे
    उस दिन नारी से ये सब भी उतरवा ले जायेगे
    हमने दिया हमने लिये इसमे बुरा क्या किया

    कोई भी सक्षम किसी का सामान क्यूँ लेगा
    और ऐसा समान जिस पर अपना अधिकार ही ना हो
    जिस दिन चूड़ी , बिंदी , सिंदूर और बिछिये
    पति का पर्याय नहीं रहेगे
    उस दिन ख़तम हो जाएगा
    सुहागिन से विधवा का सफ़र
    लेकिन ऐसा कभी नहीं होगा
    क्यूंकि
    घर बनाने का अधिकार
    नारी का नहीं होता

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  12. When we talk about dowry, marriage expenses – this is exactly where we need to educate people. That if they choose to give dowry or spend huge amounts on wedding it is a risk they are taking and they may never see the money again. Unless it is legally documented somewhere as explicitly something they want back in case the marriage does not work out.

    When I got married, my FIL made me sign a document that stated how much jewelry I received from him during the wedding. Yes, the jewelry was more of emotional value because my husband’s mom got it made for her future DIL literally on her death bed. And the document did not seek any return on jewelry. At that time, unused to such practices, I was kind of offended. But now I see the value in having a clear cut document.

    We need to separate our legal and emotional issues and not let one drive the other. We need to help people understand that inheritance is not a right. That inheritance is not always fair and totally upto the discretion of the person who like any other person comes with their own set of flaws and prejudices.

    This will force us to think about our security and future.

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  13. IHM,I read all the comments ,but I have a slightly contrasting story to share.My FIL has two sons and a daughter.We built a three storey building after my FIL’s retirement as a joint venture between the brothers and a small part being contributed by my FIL. The many he contributed also was given to him by the brothers collected over 2-3 years time.But he fully supervised the entire construction and saved a lot of money for the family.Among the three storeys,ground floor belongs to him,first floor to the first brother and second floor to my husband.Now he is planning to will the ground floor to his daughter,even though its built majorly funded by the brothers and only partly by him.He says that it is his money and he will give it to whomever he wants. But the said daughter is an authentic paraya dhan when it comes to ‘duties’ ,does not spend a penny on her parents,instead is a burden on my family for her personal needs also.She and my MIL have an air that the brothers have to ‘baby’ her all the time.Let alone looking after her parents,she even packs food from our kitchen everyday. Also ,the FIL has spent all his retirement funds on her dowry,wedding,her well being in general.The brothers have to care for the FIL and MIL’s daily expenses,medical bills etc. As much as we have women who are victimised and left roof less,there is a small subset which enjoys the best of both worlds.Behaving like a complete paraya dhan when it comes to duties but the first to strike claim when it comes to the benefits.

    The reason that lets her behave the way she does is again the social conditioning,which excuses her from all the parental responsibilities,no one can question her cos she is the ‘ghar ki beti’. No law can defy these social conditionings,each case is unique .But the laws have to be framed such as it meet the majority,exceptions like this will be there,but we cannot take into account such exceptional cases like these and let the real victims suffer. Only thing we can do is to work in parallel to change the social conditioning and provide legal protection to victims.

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    • @Confused DIL-I’ve seen examples of women like these as well. Infact, there’s a house in my mothers name(bought by my dad) and there is intense family pressure on my dad to leave this house to his sister. It’s also presently occupied by herself and family.

      The only reason for this is the fact that she’s stuck in her marriage and despite working, has no savings as her husband does not contribute to their household. No one is sure what exactly he earns or where his salary goes🙂

      My dad has a lot of scorn for his sisters because he believes them to be like your SIL. However, it’s also true that they were treated unequally to their brothers, ‘married off’ as soon as college ended to miserable men and in-laws who make life hell for them. Granted the people to blame are my grandparents, but it’s now fallen on the ‘brother’ to magically right the wrongs- fair or unfair, who knows?All said and done, the demand is made quite openly because after all it’s ‘only’ the DIL’s house/property!

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  14. Pingback: Some basic questions on joint family finances and daughters in law. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  15. Pingback: “Although my in laws maintain a facade of being content with what they have and never asking the girl’s side for anything…” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  16. sir
    I have questions which needs your suggestion.I am the only girl in my family who is 21 years old; my grandfather’s property was divided among my dad and my uncle.My uncle is no more and his two sons are planning to sell the property. My brother is 17 years old. I wanted to know is my signature required when they are selling the property??? do i have a chance of filing a case against the whole of the property seeking the equal share in the property???????

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  17. Pingback: “…being his mom’s support in ways his sisters were not…. He borrowed money off me to pay for his mom’s car.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  18. Dear sir we r three sons and four sisters to my parents. One of my sister expired. All r married. Our all property belongs to my mother she purchsed her own. And my mother expired. Now in her property equal share to our sister also? Pls reply . If they go to court weather they get equal share. my father is still alive is this property belongs to father pls reply sir

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  19. Pingback: “A Delhi court has refused alimony and advised the wife to find a job. Now that’s Equality.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  20. Pingback: Married daughters having sufficient means, are under an obligation to maintain their parents: Bombay High Court | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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