09/04/2020, 15.27
BANGLADESH
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Historic ruling gives Hindu widows the right to inherit their husband’s land and assets

by Sumon Corraya

The High Court has ruled that women can benefit from all the assets of their late husbands. For a human rights lawyer, this is first time the rights of Hindu widows are heeded; historically, governments have tended to be uninterested in their fate. The ruling restores "honour and peace" and provides the women with a certain degree of "self-sufficiency". The beneficiaries can rejoice at their newly found sense of self-worth.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – In a landmark decision, the Bangladesh High Court ruled that Hindu widows can benefit from all the assets of their late husbands

On Wednesday, the Court decided that no separation can be made between agricultural and non-agricultural lands. Until now, women could only inherit their husband’s (or father’s) homestead, not other land and assets.

Rights activists and legal experts hail the decision, which represents a fundamental step towards equality between men and women, including in matters of inheritance and land ownership.

For Sultana Kamal, a leading human rights lawyer, this is "good news" for human rights advocates. Now Hindu widows can benefit from their late husband's property, something which “we were demanding for some time.”

Hitherto, no government in Muslim majority Bangladesh had paid “much attention to Hindu women". Now, thanks to the verdict, widows will be able to lead a dignified life without having to beg for hospitality in their parents' home or with other relatives.

“This ruling restores honour and peace" to women who now can "be self-sufficient, without financial worries,” Kamal explained.

Rana Das Gupta, general secretary of Oikya Parishad, an NGO that promotes dialogue between Hindus, Muslims and Christians, calls the court ruling a “landmark” decision.

Hindu women are certainly happy and satisfied with it; Dipaly Rani is one of them.

“After the death [of her husband], a Hindu woman returns to her father's house with the children, for shelter.

“We had no rights to our husband’s land. This is why we celebrate the verdict. Now Hindu women will be able to live in society with a greater sense of self-worth.”

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