DOWRY, FEMALE INHERITANCE SHARE AND SOCIAL PRESTIGE: A CASE STUDY OF VILLAGE MAINGAN, DISTRICT CHAKWAL
Keywords:Dowry, female inheritance, family honour, social prestige, cultural practices, Pakistan
A major contradiction that controls and permeates all aspects of women’s lives in Pakistan and other regions of South Asia is the giving of dowry and wrongfully depriving them of their share in family inheritance. Viewed as a marker of the social status, honour and power of the male head of the household, dowry is indeed a patriarchal ploy to subjugate women and keep them under male tutelage. This paper investigates social perceptions in general and females’ perceptions in particular regarding the presence of dowry and suppression of inheritance rights, despite having shariah injunctions and constitutional safeguards to protect their right to have a share in family property and assets. With the help of in-depth interviews of twenty women of Maingan, a village in Punjab’s District Chakwal, and conversations with key informants and influential landholders of the locality, while exploring dowry’s correlation with women’s marital life and their social and economic, the study also investigates whether relinquishing their right to inheritance is simply compliance of male authority by a subservient female or tactful bargaining with patriarchy. The findings reveal that despite all efforts at gender sensitisation and female awareness, women remain inadequately informed about their rights.
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