Pakistan moves to ensure women’s right to inheritance

Human Rights Ministry campaign aims to empower women, particularly those from rural, tribal areas

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Ministry of Human Rights has launched an awareness campaign on women’s rights to inheritance, under Islamic jurisprudence and the country’s constitution.

The landmark decision aims to provide legal shelter and aid to hundreds of thousands of women in Pakistan’s far-flung rural territories, who have continuously been denied their inheritance either by male members of society or due to long-prevailing social and cultural norms.

Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari announced that her ministry aimed to educate people about religious and legal protection provided to women through this awareness campaign.

“The protection of a women’s right to inheritance has been one of the priorities of the incumbent government, for equality and justice in Pakistan,” Mazari said.

Islam and the Constitution of Pakistan guarantee women’s inheritance rights and offer clear guidance on the matter, she added.

A helpline number, 1099, has also been launched by the Human Rights Ministry to provide free legal advice on this.

The Ministry has also uploaded a video message of the Chairman of Islamic Ideological Council (IIC) Dr Qibla Ayaz, in which the noted scholar clarifies that influencing women using familial, social or cultural pressures to give up their lawful right to inheritance is not only against the Constitution of Pakistan, but also violates the laws of Islam and the Quran.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) official account also shared a video announcing the launch of the nationwide campaign.

A tweet by the Government of Pakistan’s official account supports the campaign, saying: “The Ministry of Human Rights launched an awareness campaign to educate people about rights of women to inheritance.

A female official of the Human Rights Ministry, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “While rights are not denied to women, women do not get what is their right. This statement is conflicting yet is the reality.”

Women’s right to inheritance plays a vital role in their socioeconomic and political empowerment, she noted, adding that unfortunately women are often denied the right to inheritance due to deep-rooted patriarchal systems, biased interpretation of divine directives, the laws of the land and above all, an inefficient mechanism for the implementation and enforcement of laws which are also delaying tactics. The registration of births and marriages is mostly avoided in Pakistan.

According to a lawyer Ayaz Hussain, Pakistani law recognised the deceased’s right to leave his property according to his will, but restricted that to one-third of his assets.

The transmission of property through bequest was of secondary importance to the compulsory rules of inheritance designed to benefit the family.

In Pakistan, inheritance of a deceased Muslim’s property was regulated by the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961 and Succession Act 1925, Hussain noted.


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