Daughters coaxed away from land rights

Late

A villager from Maval taluka spoke to Newsline on anonymity. "In our village, an ugly spat arose when the married daughter of a family demanded her share of her father's land. The legal battle is still on. To prevent this from happening in our house, prior to my sister's wedding, my father got her to sign a declaration giving up her claim on the land. Thus, the 20 acres we inherit would only be divided between me and my brother, and later among our children," he said.

Advocate Aseem Sarode stated that he gets 2-3 such cases every month. "The legal documents are drawn prior to marriage and the excuse given is that the family would be spending the share of the daughter on her wedding expenses. This way, the family ensures the land passes on to sons only," he said. Sarode states that this saves them from legal wrangles if the married daughter's family stakes claim.

Another lawyer, Ravi Bhavar, stated that although this is all within the legal framework, it is unethical as it robs women of their rightful share. "Many a time, the daughter signs the declaration without understanding the full purport of the document. Also, few can actually challenge the declaration in court later. Although there are more than 5 such enquiries per week, few manage to actually file a case or follow it up," he said.

Bhavar says the time and cost involved are major issues preventing daughters from pursuing the rights they have signed away. "Many a time, relatives use emotional blackmail to prevent a woman from asking for her right. They remind her of the lavish way she was married off or the gifts she was given and is asked to refrain from demanding her right," he said. Bhavar said awareness was needed among women to ensure such practices are stopped.

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