This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Sravani Cheruvu. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

What India’s Property Laws Mean For Women

Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Regardless of our profession or our lifestyle, we are all justified in wanting to be treated right. When people are unable to assert their rights, it is the ultimate insult to humankind. It is a pre-conceived notion that Indian society is principally patriarchal in law, education and academics. Women’s lives in male dominated societies are entrenched with discrimination; holding women back from claiming equal rights. Since men enjoy preferential rights to property over women, male-centric societies suppress women’s demands for equal property rights. But advancement in India’s property law has led to a substantial boost in the importance of property rights for women. Although this article mainly deals with the rights of Hindu women in India the existence of limited rights to property for women is prevalent in other religions and countries too.

To establish harmony between men and women, there is a need to create laws for supervising succession or inheritance of property legally, among the members of the family. In the past, Hindus were governed by Shastric and customary laws which differ from area to area with reference to the caste system.

Women were denied the right to ownership but given the right to subsistence from the property. Women were denied ancestral property, unlike men who enjoyed proprietorship till death. Under Hindu law, a woman can only have rights over a particular property which was given to her at the time of the wedding. Only males were entitled to be coparcener. The first legislation which empowered women with the inheritance rights is the Hindu Law of Inheritance Act, 1929. But unjustified infringement from personal laws led to the above legislation being ruled out, and the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 was enacted by the Indian government. This act grants women with limited ownership right over property.

To eradicate the ambiguities and inequities of previous laws, the judiciary decided to reform specific provisions under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. It was amended on September 9, 2005, where the daughters administered by Mitakshara law, were given the statutory right in the coparcenary property of their fathers.

This amendment nullifies Section 23 which states that women heirs cannot have an equal share in the property unless male heirs suggest segregating their share. According to the revised Section 6 of Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the daughter of a coparcenary is provided with the same rights and liabilities as a son from the same family.

This provision infers that going forth, women have the same authority and control over the property. She can dispose of her share of coparcenary property to anyone through a will. This amendment repudiates the customs and regulations of Shastric law. Although this resolution taken by the judiciary provides various advantage to women heirs, it also invites controversy from the public. Issues have been raised on the amendment act and whether the rights granted to daughters are reactionary or progressive. It asks whether married daughters have equal property rights.

Through recent judicial pronouncements, it has been made clear that above-stated reform is progressive in application and married daughters can claim to have equal rights on a property. In the case of Prakash V. Phulavati (October 16, 2015) the court ruled that the right will be available only when the father and daughter are alive on the date the amendment was made (September 9, 2005). Daughters cannot resume or question the authority over a property of persons who passed away before September 2005. For the sake of transparency, it may be said that the status of any self-acquired property (as distinct from coparcenary property) of a Hindu male dying intestate remains unchanged, with the daughter being entitled to a simultaneous share in such self-acquired property as the son (in absence of any will to the contrary).

The amendment will aid those women who are born into Hindu families holding ancestral property. Moreover, this law cannot be applied to any self-acquired property.

Even though it is an improvement in the Hindu Succession Act, there is still an underlying inequity faced by women heirs. The act does not take into account the significance of one member from the coparcenary property being responsible for the property. However, the status of the mother has not been given much focus. She, not being a member of the coparcenary will not receive any share at the time of notional partition. This amendment has provided immense power to women, whether married or unmarried, to be considered as coparceners and allow them to inherit ancestral property through intestate or testamentary procedures. This empowerment of women has led to the equitable distribution of rights and status in society. This amendment brings social and economic protection to women in case of marital breakdown and results in developing the life of women in a male-dominated society.

You must be to comment.

More from Sravani Cheruvu

Similar Posts

By Amrit Mahapatra

By Amrit Mahapatra

By Amrit Mahapatra

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below