Here’s a comment from one of the previous posts:
Why the hell would a husband part with his property..ask her father to give it to her from his ancestral property..let her fight with her mother, brothers and sisters for easy wealth. Why burden the poor husband?
Inheritance (for women) is easy wealth.
Then what kind of wealth is well earned and deserved by Indian women?
Dowry: No. One it is illegal and two, it is given to the spouse or his family, not to the woman.
Inheritance: Only greedy, selfish, uncaring [etc] women refuse to sign away their inheritance for their brothers.
Earning/career/job: Maybe Permitted or Expected or Forbidden. And who has the authority to Permit, Forbid or Expect?
Generally a girl child’s parents try to estimate what the future in laws and spouse would want, and decide accordingly. In the 1960s only ‘teachers and doctors’ were approved as convenient options for future-daughters-in-law. Today jobs that require travel and night-shifts have been found to inconvenience the future-in-laws and spouse.
So not only are Indian daughters raised to be daughters in law and then frequently married off before they start earning (or made to stop earning), but they are also denied inheritance either because a dowry has to be given to the in laws they did not choose or because ‘she will get her husband’s wealth anyway’. Generally the future spouse and in laws know this and expect no less. They would do the same for their sisters and daughters.
But why is a daughters’ marriage seen as more important than her happiness and self reliance?
Because marriage is seen as security, and self reliance for women as impossible. Living alone is not an option – it’s not safe for women in India to live alone. (These rules relax a little for widows, who must learn to live alone and never remarry)
The parents feel an Indian woman can only be secure if she has a roof over her head and a family of her own to look after her, specially in her old age. They worry that her brothers might refuse to let her stay in their house (which the sisters have been disinherited from). So she must be nice to her brothers, because they are also the ones who send regular gifts to her in laws to ensure she is treated well.
So she must keep her brothers happy so they keep her in laws happy.
Does this work well? What if the in laws/spouse don’t want her or what if her brother doesn’t care? What if she is unhappy in her marriage? That’s not convenient for the brother (who generally has a life of his own), so she is asked to please-adjust and save her marriage. Sometimes she might commit suicide or be killed, and the parents might never learn what actually happened. Or she might get divorced but without a job, alimony or child support. Or she might come back to her natal home as a widow.
That’s the security that the tradition of disinheritance and dependance provides. Time, skills and energy are invested in preparing for a future [link] that works only if the woman Gets married and Stays married, no matter how unhappily.
Also note, while she is expected to give up or ‘adjust her earning opportunities’, and bear children, doing so is not recognised as contribution. Do read some of the comments in response to this post, like here, here, here and here. And they aren’t alone: Of Housewives, Beggars and Prostitutes.
So why do married women who are not earning deserve to be seen as contributing?
Let me quote SB:
What about opportunity cost? If she worked or continued to work after marriage, she would have accumulated a certain amount of work experience. By being a homemaker, she would be more or less unemployable if she’s been out of the job market for many years.
What about the wealth she might have accumulated if she had been paid for her work? I plan my expenses, savings and investments out of my salary. If I am not paid, I cannot do that. (I pay my maid more than food, clothing, shelter, medical expenses.)
What about legal tenant rights? If the wife had been a tenant, she could not be evicted as simply as she would be in the case of a divorce.
What about compensation for job-related injuries in case she is injured during childbirth or “in the kitchen”?
What about PF and other retirement benefits which a full time job would provide?
What about the cost of relocation, transfer, travel in case she moves with her husband several times during their life?
The marriage contract does not state anywhere that a homemaker should be a slave. It doesn’t state anything about division of labour, wealth, or any other assets. The marriage contract is actually based on an assumption of decency. Something which is probably lacking if people view homemakers as employees. A homemaker is not an employee of her husband or family. She is actually opting out of the job market for the sake of fulfilling certain duties. That is what she should be compensated for. Not just for the work she’s done as a mother, cook, housekeeper, and caretaker.
The one way gender neutral laws would be really neutral in this system is if parents (and society) stopped seeing girl children as future daughters in law, and if it was required for everybody to earn and live away from home for one year before they could be ‘married off’, only with their written consent. Fair inheritance would probably automatically follow then.
Note: Paraya dhan – means ‘the daughter in law of somebody else’ or ‘wealth of somebody else’.
Paraya – not mine, Dhan – possession, wealth