Women’s Property Rights and Access to Justice in India: A Socio-Legal Ethnography of Widowhood and Inheritance Practices in Maharashtra

Women’s Property Rights and Access to Justice in India: A Socio-Legal Ethnography of Widowhood and Inheritance Practices in Maharashtra

Women’s Property Rights and Access to Justice in India: A Socio-Legal Ethnography of Widowhood and Inheritance Practices in Maharashtra

Women’s Property Rights and Access to Justice in India: A Socio-Legal Ethnography of Widowhood and Inheritance Practices in Maharashtras

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Référence bibliographique [3938]

Bates, Karine. 2005. «Women’s Property Rights and Access to Justice in India: A Socio-Legal Ethnography of Widowhood and Inheritance Practices in Maharashtra». Thèse de doctorat, Montréal, Université McGill, Département d’anthropologie.

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1. Objectifs


Intentions :
« The main question of this thesis is how does the current Indian cultural context affect widows’ inheritance rights and access to property? [...] This socio-legal ethnography of women’s succession rights, in the state of Maharashtra, is an anthropological contribution to the dynamics of social cohesion in an environment where social and legal pluralism is itself in transition. » (p. 2)

2. Méthode


Échantillon/Matériau :
« This thesis draws on data collected through field research in Bheema, a village in Pune district in Maharashtra, complemented by legal research on statutes, case law, and court procedures. [...] I stayed in the village of Bheema for four months (March to July 2001), and conducted interviews with 35 women - of whom 14 were widows - and their families. Ten men also participated in my study [...]. As well as conducting interviews, I collected life and family histories and some marriage and inheritance genealogies through informal discussions with the respondents. [...] The data collected through fieldwork were complemented by legal research, specifically, analyses of statutes, jurisprudence, legislative records, court procedures and cases. » (pp. 79-80)

Type de traitement des données :
Analyse de contenu

3. Résumé


« In India, the Hindu Succession Rights Act of 1956 allows the widow, the daughters, alongside the sons of the deceased senior male, to claim an equal share in familial property. By giving inheritance rights to daughters and widows, and not exclusively to sons, this Act proposes a radically different organization of the ideal patrilineal household, commonly referred to as ’the Hindu joint family’. The Act initiates a transformation of Hindu women’s status through their rights to property, which implies the transformation of women’s rights and duties in India. Drawing on the analysis made during an extensive fieldwork, period in a rural community and case studies in Pune tribunals, this thesis shows that women generally know that they have some rights to their father’s and husband’s property. However, for various reasons, they do not see any advantage in claiming their inheritance rights. Women often find it difficult to reconcile claiming rights with their duties as daughters (or daughters-in-law) and the social restrictions associated with widowhood. In addition, the complex relationships with the state bureaucracy often prevent them from their right to access property. In that context, before choosing a forum of justice, most women (and men) will first opt for conflict avoidance. » (p.ii)