Recently, i got to read about the changes that have been made to the Hindu Succession (Amendment) act. For those who aren't familiar with the act, the goverment of India issued the Hindu Succession Act in 1956 and effective Sept, 9th 2005 the Amendment to this act has been made.
Purpose of the act: The Hindu Succession (Amendment) act is mainly to eliminate gender discriminations from its earlier act by providing several rights to daughters or females that weren't there before.
It covers the following areas and provides benefit relief for women under several broad circumstances.
- Agricultural land: The new 2005 amendment declares that all agricultural land can be inherited equally by women, irrespective of the different state laws and can thereby benefit all those women who are dependent on agriculture for their day to day survival.
- Mitakshara coparcenary property: This includes daughters as co-parceners (A coparcener is one of two or more persons sharing an inheritance, a joint heir) with same birth rights as sons to share, to claim partition and also share liabilities in a joint family property.
- Dwelling house and Widow's claims: All daughters can from now on have the same rights as sons to stay in or seek partition of a family residing house. In the past, married daughters were denied residence rights in parental homes while unmarried, separated, widowed daughters could stay but not have parition rights.
What this means for a common woman living in a village in India:
This means a lot for daughters and widowed women, especially the poor and abused. By getting equal rights in agricultural land, several poor women have the opportunity to bring in a steady income to the household, improve productivity and also gain independence from drunk and abusive husbands. I can only think what a blessing it would be for an uneducated, poor, ill-treated nari from a remote village in Andhra or Bihar to own a small field. The coparcenary laws bring a new vision to the male-dominated Indian society by treating daughters and sons equally. This also drives home the hard lesson in a society which thinks that after marriage a daughter belongs to only the husband's family. Finally, the dwelling house rights would come as a boon for the women who suffers domestic violence as she will have a place to go.
I am sure that all this has taken ages to implement and work on both at the Rajya Sabha and a lot of effort on the goverment and several committee sessions. Women seeking right to own property and rights for land is only the beginning light to a dark tunnel that millions of women in rural India are still groping in.