Both under Sharia and the law of the land, women in Pakistan are entitled to inherit property of their parents and husbands. Violation of these laws carries imprisonment ranging from five to 10 years with a fine, or both. However, due to the societal structure, women, who comprise 50% of the total population of the country, are deprived of their inheritance rights through forgery and fabrication as well as under various pretexts.
To put things right, the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is making efforts to raise awareness about the issue among both women and men. In this connection, recently the provincial government launched a guidebook for stakeholders to spread awareness regarding ‘K-P Women’s Property Rights Act, 2019.’ Speaking at the launch ceremony of the guidebook, the ombudsperson of the Protection of Women against Harassment at Workplace rightly pointed out that long delays in settling court cases pertaining to women’s property rights resulted in women losing their due share in family property. Excessive delay in other litigation matters too mars our justice system. Unscrupulous elements try to linger the legal process in order to make their opponents run around to the point of exhaustion so as to get the court decision in their own favour. Some property cases, including those involving women’s right to inheritance, linger for several generations.
The strongest point of the Ombudsperson’s Office in K-P is that the ombudsperson is empowered to enforce her decision. The police, revenue and other relevant departments are bound to help carry out the orders of the ombudsperson, including those relating to women’s property rights. The delays in resolving property cases pending in courts are a major obstacle in the way of dispensation of justice to women. There is a need to expedite the legal process. In order to ensure women’s inheritance and other rights, it is of utmost importance to convince society to give women their due rights. Mere laws on the statute books cannot be effective unless there is a positive change in society’s outlook.