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Pakistan - Kvinder, der forlod deres hjem efter jordskælvet, risikerer at miste jord og ejendom

PAKISTAN: Female quake survivors losing property

IRINnews.org, 3. januar 2006

Mange kvinder, der flygtede fra ødelagte byer, risikjerer at miste deres jord og ejendom som element i de lokale ejendomsretslige regler. Derudover er det ejendomsretslige system så mangelfuldt, at mange familier, som har forladt deres ejendom vil have svært ved at bevise deres nedarvede rettigheder til jorden, når de vender tilbage. Dette forhold har medvirket til at mange ikke ønskede at forlade deres hus på trods af den forestående vinter.

Mange kvinder, der forlod deres hjem efter jordskælvet, oplever nu at have mistet deres ejendom - ©  Edward Parsons/IRIN
ABBOTTABAD, 3 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - A thin, grey mule laden with bags and sacks fidgets restlessly as he tries to flick a fly off his back.

Beside the animal, an equally thin boy stands, nervously adjusting the reins and loading the last few items into the bags. Muhammad Kareem, 14, is ready to accompany his aunt, Zumera Bibi, back to her village in the Allai Valley area, badly damaged by October’s devastating regional quake, to try and regain control of the family property, which she fears has been lost.

"I came down from my village, which is located some 40 km from here, because the conditions there were very miserable. It was freezing, our house had fallen and I was worried about being caught there without food. But I made a terrible mistake. I should never have left our house unattended," Zumera said.

The family was told their house, left vacant after Zumera and her daughters moved down from the mountain village after the quake, had been seized by nephews of Zumera's late husband, Muhammad Ilyas.

She has no papers to prove that the house in which she lived for nearly 20 years since her marriage to Ilyas belongs to her, or to her four daughters, all born in the same, tiny room at the back of the house that served as the couple's bedroom.

Zumera has no sons, and as tradition dictates she and her daughters have no right to the property, which would revert back to the brothers of her husband on his death. Even though, under the law, her daughters should get at least a share in the inheritance, this is frequently denied to women.

"It is not just. I have repaired that house myself and raised an additional room brick by brick, with my own hands. They have no right to steal it from me and my girls. Where will I go now? How will I fend for my daughters and arrange their marriages?" asks Zumera, anger and anxiety lining her face as she speaks.

Zumera's story is no different to that of hundreds of other women widowed by the quake. Many of those with no adult, male children face potential seizure of property – usually by male relatives.

In some cases, the claims of the women to the property have been challenged, and according to reports received by NGOs active in quake-hit areas of North West Frontier Province (NWFP), women without male family members have been forced to vacate homes or else hand them over to male relatives in the hope that, in return, they will help care for them and their children.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has already called for urgent government action to ensure women and child victims are not deprived of their inheritance or the compensation being given to owners of homes that fell as a result of the quake.

"We are concerned about the situation, and there is a need to protect women's right to property. They and the children cannot safeguard it themselves," said Hina Jilani of HRCP, a leading rights activist and lawyer.

The issue of property rights impacts on many quake-affected households, not just those headed by women. Tens of thousands of people have resisted pressure from the Pakistani government and from international relief agencies to move down from high altitude areas, stating their houses and land would be seized by others if they abandoned them, even for a few months.

"The only way we can keep our property is to live on it and farm the land. This is the proof that it is ours, and has been handed down from father to son to grandson, sometimes for centuries," maintains Razzak Hussain, 32, who has moved his family down to Battagram, 120 km north of the capital, Islamabad, but himself intends to stay on in his village, some 20 km outside the town.

© IRIN - This article appeared originally on IRIN News.org and is published by engelund.dk according a general agreement. To view the original article, please click here.
IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) is a project of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
[This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]


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Opdateret d. 9.1.2006