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Inheritance Law India

Simply passing a law equalising sons' and daughters' claims to land and other immovable property will not solve the problem of dowry-giving. In many regions of rural India there is a strict social taboo on a daughter inheriting land, since if she does so the land is lost by her father's lineage and passes instead to her children, who belong to the lineage of her husband. Furthermore, women in many rural areas are economically reliant on male kin. If the woman is widowed without adult sons or brothers-in-law, and her dowry was small, or was seized by her husband's family, she may be unable to earn a self-supporting income and be forced to sell her land inheritance share to a complete stranger.

Therefore, if a woman attempts to exercise her legal claim to her share of her parents' immovable property, she is likely to lose the affection of her brothers, together with their sense of obligation to support her in a family emergency or in the event that she is widowed without sons or responsible brothers-in-law.

To quote from Minturn (Sita's Daughters: Coming Out of Purdah: The Rajput Women of Khalapur Revisited):

''Modern agriculture, essential to India's food supply, requires relatively large land plots. Despite the destruction of most of the wide irrigation dikes, many Khalapur landholdings are already too small to utilise modern farming equipment. Landholdings in poorer states are even smaller. Land inheritance by daughters and by daughters' daughters would quickly divide landholdings among people living in diverse locations. Furthermore, it is the labour of sons that harvests the land and earns the money for investments such as tube wells and tractors. Sons may put in many years of labour between the time that their sisters marry and their parents die. Equal inheritance by daughters means that they benefit from this labour without having contributed to it. Daughters must hire people to work parental land, becoming absentee landowners, or sell their shares. Unless they sell to their brothers, the patrilineage is deprived of ancestral property. The opposition to female land claims is understandable, and it seems unlikely that it will diminish.''


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