This new idea would mark a sharp departure from the long-existing legal and social practices, even threatening to disturb the families and their economic relationships
The sub-committee formed to work on the Civil Code Bill under the Parliamentary Legislation Committee is discussing whether wife should have the right to a share of her husband’s property in case of divorce. This right has been enjoyed by women for decades, at least ever since the days of the Panchayat system. In this sense, this new idea would mark a sharp departure from the long-existing legal and social practices, even threatening to disturb the families and their economic relationships. Nepali Congress lawmaker, Radheshyam Adhikari, himself a senior lawyer, who heads the sub-panel, says that this possible review of the existing Civil Code provisions of wife’s right to claim a share in her husband’s property has been triggered by the principle of gender equality. According to him, a woman has, under the new constitutional provisions, a right to get a share of her parental property and if she also gets the husband’s property she will be taking a double benefit – a right which a man has not been granted. The question of double benefit merits discussion. But a woman’s right of claim on her husband’s property is natural and required from the point of view of justice as well. This right should not be taken away under any pretexts, while the question of double benefit may be addressed otherwise, particularly by reviewing her right to a share of her parental property. The latter idea has been new for Nepal, which had been criticized by many people for its possible adverse effects on familial and social relationships and structures. When a woman is married into another family, her home changes, her surname and caste change, she undertakes family burdens, bears children, rears them, and when she, for any reasons whatsoever, is discarded by her husband and is also deprived of a share in her husband’s property, what will be her situation? Where will she go? How will she manage life? And what about the long sacrifices she made for a stranger’s family which she adopted as her own? Can she be thrown out like a sucked orange? No doubt, in family relationships, because of mismatches or the mistakes or wrongdoings of either husband or wife, or because of any other factors, if the couple come to a conclusion that they cannot get on together any longer. Under such situations, they may separate or get divorced. But if the woman has to go away empty-handed, this will be gross injustice against her. Such an idea would only encourage men to take more than one wife, though after divorcing the present wife. In Nepali society, or even in most societies in the world, the social status of divorced women, even more if she has borne children, will be much lower than divorced men. This will affect her in many ways, even for re-marriage. The proposed Civil Code Bill is also considering introducing the will system of property transfer, rather than automatic claim of children on parental property, with effect from several years hence. These provisions should be widely discussed in public and their feedback should be taken into account. Studies and research on these contentious issues should also be utilized to bring in fair amendments that could address real problems.
Delayed monsoon Monsoon rains play a vital role in agriculture. Nepal’s agriculture, particularly paddy plantation, is heavily dependent on the monsoon rains due to the absence of integrated round-the-year irrigation system across the country, mostly in the food basket of the Tarai region. But the delayed arrival of the monsoon has often led to delayed plantation of paddy in areas where irrigation facilities are unavailable. June 10 is considered to be the standard date for the monsoon to arrive. According to the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology that started keeping records of rainfall since 1865 there were 33 delayed monsoons while 12 monsoons have been recorded to have occurred before the usual time. Weathermen have blamed the erratic monsoon to the climate change or global warning that has created disturbances on terrestrial, atmospheric and aquatic systems. Experts believe that this year’s monsoon will also arrive late by one week as it has just started from Kerala and will take one week to enter Nepal. What the government should do to address this problem is to push through the irrigation projects in the plains so that farmers can start paddy plantation even before the arrival of monsoon.