Districts that saw a surge in land price also had a higher number of daughters giving up their claim on their father’s land. This surprising trend was revealed in a study carried out by the Working Group for Women and Land Ownership (WGWLO).
The study analysed land records of 34 villages in 17 talukas of five districts. “We found that against 2,190 daughters who inherited land in the last three years, 508 had released their title deed, which is 23.2%. In fact we found that this trend of daughters giving up their claim on the land was higher in Ahmedabad (29.5%), Patan (34.2%) and Kutch,” said Shilpa Vasavda of WGWLO. Against a total of 2,639 women (including daughters and widows) who inherited land in the last three years, 586 had released their title deed.
She added that surprisingly these districts were also the ones that had been witnessing a surge in land prices. “It is difficult to believe that most of these daughters would have voluntarily given up their share in the land. It is more likely that either they were unaware of their rights or were under pressure from their families to give it up,” said Vasavda.
Interestingly, the trend was considerably lower in tribal districts. “In Dahod and Tapi, we found that the percentage of daughters giving up their title was less. It could be because in tribal societies patriarchy is not so strongly entrenched,” said Vasavda. To safeguard the share of women in the farm land, the activists are demanding certain changes in legislation.
“It usually happens that when a woman marries, the family members ask her to give up her share in property. When she goes to her in-laws’ place, the land is often in the name of her husband and if she is ever widowed, the in-laws gang up against her to prevent her from getting the property. This can be resolved through simple changes in regulations,” said Vasavda.
The network wants that once a daughter’s name is added in the inheritance list, there should be a time period (say, a year) when she cannot sell it. “Even when she gives up the claim, some monetary compensation has to be involved because our observation is that most women given up their claim under pressure rather than out of their own will,” said Vasavda. She added that another thing that can be done is making it mandatory to give a woman ownership in her husband’s land. “This way if she is widowed she need not fear her that her in-laws will grab her property,” said Vasavda.