Dr. Abul Barkat, a renowned economist, researcher and Dhaka University Economics Professor said in a seminar organized by ALRD titled Deprivation of Women and Their Rights to Land: Inheritance Laws in Bangladesh on 4 May 2015 in Dhaka that a balanced society would only be possible to be created when equal rights to land irrespective of genders would be established as the constitution of Bangladesh stipulates to provide equal opportunity for the women at all the national levels. This information has come out through a research titled Assessing Inheritance Laws and their Impact on Rural Women in Bangladesh conducted by Human Development Research Centre (HDRC) led by Prof. Abul Barkat and supported by International Land Coalition.
It’s found from this study represented by Muslim, Hindu, Chakma, Garo and Santal communities that women own only 4% of the agricultural land of the country. Since Garo community is matriarch, their women get hereditary land property from their mothers. Even though Muslim women get ancestors land, in reality they effectively own not more than 5% of rural land of the country and the ownership of more than one third of Muslim women are taken away by their brothers in half the real price. In addition to this, Muslim women get only 43.2% of their hereditary property and in most cases the low quality and low priced lands are given to them. On the other hand, Hindu, Chakma and Santal women don’t have any lawful rights in hereditary land property. Women get tortured physically and mentally by their family if they claim property. So in many cases, women keep silence about their property rights in fear of harassment from their families.
Speakers in the seminar mentioned “A woman’s social dignity, identity, and economic empowerment are linked with land rights” and opined “to this end, it is required to formulate a common family law reforming the existing hereditary law for all women irrespective of religious affiliation; and for this people’s mindset should be changed and a joint effort of the state, society and family is needed.
Khushi Kabir, Chairman, ALRD and Coordinator, Nijera Kori chaired the session while Dhaka University professors Dr. Sadeka Halim, Professor of Sociology and Dr. Shima Zaman, Professor of Law and Abu Sayeed Khan, journalist and writer discussed on the paper. Representatives from different women rights organisations around the country attended the seminar.