As property prices rise, more Indian women claim inheritance
Rising property prices in parts of India have helped achieve what women’s rights groups have tried and failed to do for decades – get more women to claim their inheritance.
A 2005 law gave Hindu women across India equal inheritance rights but few have made claims because they are unaware of the law, or have been forced to give up their claims by male family members, according to analysts.
But an increase in property prices near the Indian capital, New Delhi, has pushed more women in Haryana state to claim their share, gender and land rights experts said on Wednesday.
Property prices in the three Haryana cities that are closest to Delhi have risen by more than half in the past decade as more migrants flocked to the capital and transport links improved, according to Anarock, an Indian property consultant.
Amendments in 2005 to the Hindu Succession Act, which governs matters of inheritance among Hindus – who make up about 80 percent of India’s population – made women’s inheritance rights equal to those of men.
Yet in several states in northern and western India, the custom of “haqtyag”, or sacrifice of right, is practised, where a woman relinquishes her claim on ancestral property.
The tradition is justified on the grounds that the father pays for his daughter’s wedding and often also gives a dowry, and therefore only the sons are entitled to the family property.
While haqtyag is voluntary, women come under enormous pressure to comply to maintain their relations with their families, Chowdhry told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Although there is no official data on inheritance claims made by women in India, only 13 percent of farmland is owned by women, according to the latest census data from 2011.
In a bid to address the imbalance, several states including Haryana – which has amongst the worst gender imbalances in the country – have lowered registration charges and taxes when a property is in the name of a woman.