Half the Land with Half the Sky: Seeking Inheritance Rights for Lahaul's Tribal Women
11 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2022
Date Written: February 22, 2022
The paper discusses the dilemmas created by the Hindu Succession Act with regard to the inheritance rights of India’s tribal women, with a focus on women belonging to district Lahaul-Spiti in Himachal Pradesh. I argue that the customary practices of Lahaul, which provided for the exclusion of daughters, particularly married daughters, from the family property, arose in light of the specific geographical and socio-economic context of the region at a given point of time. With increasing development, prosperity, out-migration, and changing social practices, this context has come to change in many respects. The continued applicability of these customs falls foul of basic principles of equality and non-discrimination under the Indian Constitution. This situation also raises important questions from an intersectionality perspective — the plight of Lahauli women is defined by their overlapping identities as women who are also members of a tribal group. The customs and practices of any tribal community are its defining elements and in many ways also the basis for conferment of a distinct legal status on the group. However, is it fair for the community to embrace development and progress on some fronts while holding on to exclusionary traditions that deny equality to its women?
Keywords: women, property, land, inheritance, tribal, equality, intersectionality
JEL Classification: K11, K36, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation