Hindu Women’s Property Rights in India: A Critical Appraisal

Full citation: Patel, R. (2006). “Hindu Women’s Property Rights in India: A Critical Appraisal.” Third World Quarterly, 27(7), 1255–1268. – This paper looks at changes in Hindu women’s position regarding property rights, and argues that rights conferred through law must be analyzed in light of their contexts (cultural, historical, etc.) to determine their practical legitimacy. It addresses the need to critically define the bases and contours of ‘rights’ as created by law. Taking the example of changes in Hindu women’s position in relation to property through the rights generated by statutory and constitutional provisions, the article critically evaluates the potential for such a ‘rights regime’ to enable Hindu women’s greater access to property. It argues that the idea underlying a particular claim, its legitimacy and therefore effectiveness within a legal framework must be critically evaluated. The legitimacy of claims presumptively conferred within a legal framework must be interrogated in the light of legal, historical, political and cultural contexts. Such a contextual and critical analysis is crucial for effective protection of rights claims through law. To the extent that legal regimes reflect and substantiate wider social relations, their potential for bringing about substantive change in the lives of women can only be realized through ongoing critical analyses of gender, law and society.
[Threats to Women’s Land Tenure Security and Effectiveness of Interventions – Annotated Bibliography]

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