Inheritance rights

Pakistan has a poor record of providing women with the right to inheritance and property. Although there is clear Islamic jurisprudence on it, women across the country still have to fight for their inheritance rights. One example is the case of Zahra Banu who was given property by her father; however, upon his death, her brothers claimed all the property.
Article 23 of the Constitution guarantees the right to own property for every man and woman. Other legal acts protecting women’s property rights include the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961, the West Pakistan Muslim Personal Law Shariat Application Act 1962, and the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act 2011. More recently, the Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights (Amendment) Bill 2021 was also passed to ensure that women’s right to own and possess property is not violated through harassment, coercion, force or fraud. Even though depriving women of their inheritance or property through deceitful or illegal means is punishable with imprisonment, most Pakistani women remain unable to claim their inheritance. Many women often do not claim their property to avoid disputes and appease their brothers. Some do not want to take the risk of going to court because of the cultural taboo against women who appear in court. There is a disconnect between the laws and the ground reality of what is happening in the country because of regressive culture and tradition. Many women are subjected to emotional blackmail and violence, which eventually compels them to forego their inheritance share. Also, there is a large proportion of the female population who are unaware of the existence of laws.

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