STATUS OF WOMEN INHERITORS IN ISLAM: INSTITUTIONAL HURDLES IN PUNJAB, PAKISTAN
Inheritance laws plays a key role in the distribution and transference of intergeneration wealth across the globe. In Pakistan, laws related to inheritance are regulated through Shariah. In Shariah Law status of women inheritors is well defined, which along with the constitution of Pakistan assures women’s autonomy over their inherited resources. However, the denial of women’s inheritance rights is pervasive in Punjab. To control the incidents of denial, the Government of Pakistan criminalized the act in 2011. The present study aims to explore women’s inheritance rights in Islam as well as the challenges and hurdles women usually come across during the course of inheritance claims. The study is set in two districts of Punjab, Bahawalpur and Rawalpindi. Thirty women, fifteen from each district, were recruited as study participants through purposive sampling technique. Data was collected through in-depth interviews and thematically analysed later. Study results revealed that misinterpretation of divine directives along with customs and culture mediate denial and surrender. Even though inheritance is transferred to women more often following the 2011 amendment, most women cannot access or control that inheritance. Similarly, discrepancies within UC, NADRA and LRMIS’s setup alongside tedious judicial processes further exacerbate the situation. It is suggested that a deconstruction of cultural narratives, creation of transparency within the digital record systems, and sensitization of police officers, revenue department staff and judges can improve the situation. Most importantly, religion can play a vital role in securing women’s inheritance rights.
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