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Women inheritance rights

The Supreme Court recently issued its written order on a woman’s right to inheritance, saying that depriving a woman of their inherent rights is an abominable act. The court noted that it has become a common practice to deprive women of inheritance which is a violation of Islamic injunctions.

The apex court had observed that women’s inheritance rights are protected under law. Inheritance laws in Pakistan are defined under Islamic jurisprudence law and the Constitution. The Holy Quran has determined the appropriate method to determine their inheritance share.

According to the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act 2011, depriving women of inheriting property by deceitful or illegal means shall be punished with imprisonment or fines. However, there is no specific law in the Constitution that serves to strictly prevent the denial of inheritance rights to women.

A report in 2017 revealed that 80 percent of women revealed not receiving their share in inheritance. There is a high tendency that women are denied and have inaccessibility to property share. In some parts of the country, there is no concept of inheritance for women when male offspring are part of the family. There have also been incidents of men using force or even resorting to murder when women approach a court of law to claim their share in inheritance.

The courts have upheld the women’s right to inheritance but there are very few cases actually brought to court. The settlement of disputes is a time consuming process. In 2016, the supreme court ruled in favour of a woman long after she had passed away as the case had dragged for a quarter century. The court has now ruled that women must claim their rights within their lifetime.

There is a need to speed up the judicial process in such cases. In 2018, the Ministry of Human Rights had launched an awareness campaign to educate citizens on inheritance laws. Many women are not aware of their basic rights and how to claim them. We cannot have women empowerment without giving women their due rights to inheritance.

The role of religious scholars to instruct people about giving women their rights under Shariah is necessary. The government should curb the challenges faced by women in receiving their rights. We should also realise that depriving women of their inherent rights is a violation of divine law.

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