Property rights, gender, and human rights discourses in South Asia

by Livia Holden and Sylvia Vatuk

ABSTRACT

This paper explores and analyses the management of property rights by Muslim women at the level both of customary jurisdictions and of official law-courts in India and in Pakistan in the context of ongoing pressures for developing a global legal framework of human rights. Through a multidisciplinary inquiry combining legal pluralism, feminist methods and collaborative approaches, this paper will investigate the dynamics of the reception, adoption, and implementation of gender equality vis-à-vis property rights in a variety of contexts. This paper will first of all highlight the interplay between customs, personal law, and secular law as ways through which social actors make sense of power, class, gender, and governability. On the basis of published case law and qualitative case study of unreported litigation, when available, this paper will also focus on the multiple interpretative frames of socio-legal narratives to throw light on their implication vis-à-vis legal outcome. The central question of this paper is what are the legal arguments that women develop regarding property rights and what do their legal treatment tell about Muslim law and Muslim identities in South Asia? As such this paper links from a wider perspective to the global movements for human rights in order to see the role of these claims among Muslim communities in South Asia. As a conclusion it will include a scrutiny of the exclusive role of the state for the management of law and dispute resolution.

 

LSA panel: Non-State Law and Governance in South Asia and in the Diasporas

Law and Society Association 2012 International Meeting Honolulu, Hawai’i – 5-8 June 

Livia Holden; Lahore University of Management Sciences (Session Organizer)

Marc Galanter, U. of Wisconsin/London School of Econ & PolSci. (Co-Chair)
Livia Holden, Lahore University of Management Sciences (Co-Chair)
This session focuses on the South Asian networks that act as referents for the settlement of justice in South Asia, and furthermore analyses their translocal legal implications within the South Asian diasporas in terms of governance. The core focus of this workshop is the dynamics of the trust networks that inform the decision-making process concerning the choice of the forum for dispute resolution, especially but not exclusively, in relation to gender and power, and for their relation with governance. How practices of non-state law dispute resolution and their conceptualizations by both the socio-legal scholarship and the general public have been modified or influenced by local and translocal dynamics that have developed in South Asia in the last 40 years? How are those legal practices shaped by the post-colonial instances of the free market? And, what is the role of the geo-political stakeholders in the severance, re-establishment, variation, and perpetuation of trust networks for dispute resolution. Finally: what are the global implications of translocal forum shopping strategies and governance within and beyond the wider inter-Asian scenario of South Asian diasporas?
This workshop welcomes contributions looking at the language of the law by exploring the legal formulations, the arguments and the patterns of litigation within the everyday interactions of trust networks but also encourages multidisciplinary approaches from socio-legal scholars, anthropologists, lawyers, policy makers in a variety of domains, and activists. Authors may use a variety of methods ranging from qualitative to quantitative and including historical, ethnographic, and socio-legal analysis.
Jean-Philippe Dequen, University of London

Alternative Dispute Resolution within India’s Muslim Personal Law System

Mengia S Hong Tschalär, U of Zurich/Columbia U

Muslim Women’s Activists and Gender Reform: Non-State Muslim Women’s Bodies Negotiating Women’s Rights in Postcolonial India

Kalindi Kokal, National Centre for Advocacy StudiesTanta Mukta Gaav Samittee: A State Recognized Effort to Localize Dispute Resolution Forums
 Archana Parashar, Macquarie UniversityReligious Personal Laws as Non-State Laws: Implications for Gender Justice