New civil code gives women reason to rejoice

  • Women to get equal share of parental and husband’s property

Kathmandu, August 25

Women who are disheartened over ‘discriminatory provisions’ on citizenship have, however, one reason to rejoice over property issues.

The new civil code that came into force on August 17 stipulates that daughters will be entitled to their share of both parental and husband’s property. From now on, daughters won’t have to return their parental property to their parents after marriage as was the case until before the new constitution was promulgated on September 20, 2015.

Lawmaker Ram Narayan Bidari, who is also a senior advocate, said it was a matter of interpretation whether daughters will have equal share in their parental property from August 17 when the new civil code came into force or September 20, 2015 when the new constitution was promulgated or October 1, 2015 when the new gender equality law (act to amend some Nepali acts to maintain gender equality and end gender-based violence) was passed.

Article 38 of the constitution stipulates that every woman shall have equal lineage right without gender-based discrimination. The new gender equality law amended the General Code (Muluki Ain)’s provision that required daughters to return parental property after marriage. Eleventh amendment made to General Code 17 years ago had granted daughters for the first time equal share in parental property but they were required to return their property after marriage.

Bidari also said that it may take 10 to 12 years to fully implement the new provision as daughters were shy of seeking their share in the parental property after marriage. “But if any daughter seeks her share in parental property after marriage, she will be entitled to get her share from now on,” Bidari said.

Nepali Congress lawmaker Radhe Shyam Adhikari, who is also a senior advocate, said the new law established the fact that sons and daughters had inherent right in parental property. He said the Parliament rejected the provisions relating to will system last year, but ultimately society would have to adopt the will system in around 20 years’ time.

“Last year some leaders argued that if the country adopted will system, parents who favour son over daughters will end up giving all their properties to their sons through will, and therefore, major parties agreed to drop the will system from the civil code, but I think ultimately we will have to go for it,” he said.

Adhikari said many people who earned property abroad were not required to share their property with other family members, and parents whose sons and daughters were living abroad were not in a position to sell their property in Nepal without the consent of their children, and these complex social phenomena would compel society to adopt the will system.

Advocate Meera Dhungana said although the partition chapter of the civil code gave equal rights to sons and daughters over parental property, the same principle was not followed on matters of divorce as the code stipulated that women would not get share in her husband’s property if the divorce took place due to her fault.

Advocate Indu Tuladhar said some people were wrongly arguing that women would now be entitled to double property as they will have share in both parental and husband’s property. A woman is entitled to get equal share in parental property because she is an equal coparcener and as far as her share in husband’s family is concerned, she also contributes to family’s earning, and therefore, she has the right to demand her share in husband’s property, she argued.

“In the past when unmarried daughters had the right to claim parental property, most of them did not do so because they did not feel themselves empowered. I hope things will change in the days to come,” she said.

Tuladhar said the flip side of the provisions of partition of property was that disputes relating to partition led to conflict between male members of society and now with the introduction of this provision, daughters might also find themselves in similar precarious situations.