My brothers took the decision, after my father’s death, to divide the family land between themselves and leave me out. So I wrote a letter to my brothers saying that I wanted to take an equal share of the land. But they didn’t reply. After some time I gave them a legal notice and then filed a case in court under the provisions of the inheritance law. This case was filed in 1994 and it took around 5 years for the court to decide in my favour and send a notice to the village council. My brothers defied the court’s decision with the connivance of the patriarchal village council. I then phoned the secretary to the Chief Minister in Bhopal giving details of my land case and he ordered the magistrate who had decided the case to see that the land was given to me. In this process I was alone and it was a difficult time as I could not share my problems with any body because every one was opposing me. After one week the magistrate and the village council members gathered in the village and called my brothers and told them that if they obstructed the division of land then the police would take them into custody. We went to our land and I got my share in the presence of the officials and police. This was the first time that a woman in my community had fought and got a share of the ancestral land.

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Wow Gunu- this story is a very powerful one. Thank you for sharing it with us! It is amazing when a woman takes on an entire patriarchal structure and especially so when she wins.

Can you tell us more about the land? What was the land like as a child growing up? What did the land look like? What did it mean to you? What memories did it hold?

Thank you again for sharing. I look forward to reading more.

Much Peace, Sharese

You remind me so much of my grandmother who did exactly what you have done two generations ago in China. She was also left out of the inheritance of her father's land but in her case, she was the only child and the uncles wanted to seize the land for themselves. At the age of 16, my grandmother took the uncles to court and won her right to the land, just as you did. I am so incredibly proud of you for standing up against everyone, especially when no-one stood beside you in support. It is voices like yours that we so desperately need to hear, voices that stand up for what they believe and serve as role models for those who have been repressed or oppressed into silence.

Congratulations and I hope you enjoy your land for many years to come.

Reading this, I sense a strength that I could only hope I would have in this situation. I am thankful for women like you who stand strong, making roads where there are none for others to follow. Your story will encourage other women to stand up for their rights, in whatever situation they are in.

Thank you so much for sharing it here.

Rebecca

The second step is to encourage, help, and support other women in your community to reclaim their rights.

I too am in the process of reclaiming my and my children's human and civil rights as well as my economic assets stolen from me by my husband and his society. But, whether I win or lose, is of second importance. What is important, is that I stood up to age old traditions and norms of subjugation and domination.

My case, as does yours, so clearly demonstrate that laws, constitutions, and human rights accords mean nothing unless they are upheld and enforced by judicial and executive branches.

Quenby Wilcox

Quenby Wilcox Founder - Global Expats quenby@global-xpats.com www.global-xpats.com

You stuck with it to do something no one else had. Now other women will be coming to you to tell their stories- you're the one who has started the tradition of women owning land!

Thank you all so much for appreciating my struggles. The land is so little that it cannot provide a livelihood for me. That is why even when my father was alive I began working as a creche worker. After that I became a social activist and have since worked for the rights of Bhil indigenous women. I have also studied along with my work and done my graduation, post graduation and am now doing my MPhil all in social work. Patriarchy is deep set in Indian society so it is a continuous struggle for me to establish the dignity of women.

Subhadra Khaperde India