PESHAWAR: Speakers at a day-long provincial conference on promoting women’s right to inheritance in the merged tribal districts have identified the so-called tribal traditions (rewaj) and lack of administrative structure as obstacles in the way of winning inheritance rights for the tribal womenfolk.

The event was jointly organised by Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme, a non-governmental organisation, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ombudsman Secretariat in Peshawar on Wednesday.

The speakers said on the occasion that apart from local rewaj, which was mostly used against women to deprive them of their legitimate rights, the absence of a documented land record was also one of the biggest hurdles in recognising women as a legitimate partner in ancestral property.

Speakers say depriving women of inheritance un-Islamic, illegal

Mufti Ghulam Majeed, a senior researchscholar of Islamic Studies, quoted various verses of the Holy Quran and sayings of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), which clearly identified the women’s share in the property and other joint family belongings.

“Depriving women of their rights is un-Islamic and it is like you usurp someone else’s property by force,” he insisted, adding that it happened automatically whether the female survivor asked for it or not.

Ms Rakhshanda Naz, Ombudsperson for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, spoke about the need for making conversation more about ownership rather than just women’s inheritance.

She also called for recognising unpaid work done by the tribal women. She reminded the participants that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Act was not only about inheritance, but also about ownership of all types of properties.

She said that her secretariat was working in close collaboration with the district administrations of merged districts to help the local women in winning their right to inheritance.

Dr Naureen Naseer, assistant professor of Political Science Department of the University of Peshawar, referred to the infamoustribal traditions of ‘Swara’ and ‘Badal’ under which a girl was married to a person of the opposite tribe or clan against her wish just to settle a tribal dispute while also denying her due share in the family property.

“These traditions need to be challenged and that will not happen until the women own property or receive their rightful inheritance,” she insisted.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2022

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