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Monday, 17 March 2008

This Saturday I attended a seminar on ‘Woman and Legal/property Right’.

It was quite an interesting event with the attendance of over one hundred ladies and it also included few men. Most of the women came loaded with their own pockets of grievance, hoping to find solutions to their problems that related to their property rights We had different speaker that included Adv. Y.P.singh, ADV. Arvind Jain, Dr Mahendre Mehta, Adv Rajesh Mudholkar. Dr Indu Shahani, the women ‘Sheriff of Mumbai City’ was the chief guest. She is the driving force behind women’s empowerment and she has coordinated with various NGO’s in addressing the various problems of women. She has started a helpline (call 1298) for women who are facing sexual or violence harassments. She pointed out to the powers of the youth and how they can be encouraged in redefining leadership. Dr Shashi Sharma, WGG Chairperson, expressed the need for the mind set of the society to change, citing different examples about how a girl is programmed to work and help in the housework while boys are encouraged to study or to play. The division of the responsibility and difference in sex privileges are marked out at early age. She stressed the need to change this mind set and believed that everybody could be encouraged to perform to their best of their ability, irrespective of their sex preferences Advocate, Ms Flavia Agnes, chairperson of MAJLIS, spoke about the different sexual and violence problems that women are facing and leading them to commit suicide. The issues of dowry death, sexual harassment and violence have not increased over the years, but it seems so, because initially many of these crimes would go unreported. There is a vulnerability of the women that subjects them to crime and violence. They are afraid to report because they are blamed for the crime. She argued that women would not commit suicide if she is educated and independent and has her own bank account. She believes that woman should not marry under the pressure of family and society; she should first be educated and independent and marry only when she is ready to marry some one of her choice. It should not be mandatory but it should be a decision of one’s free will. She stressed the fact that if woman is educated and has a position of power, nobody can touch her. General scenario of property laws for women was discussed by advocate Arvind Jain. After 56 years of independence, woman is still discriminated in becoming an heir to the estate on par with her counterpart man. In fact, discrimination, though unconstitutional in the face of sacred Article 14 of the constitution is not uniform and does not guarantee that no citizen shall be discriminated on the basis of sex. Needless to say, thus, the laws which aim at empowering the vulnerable section of the society must not be read down. After the delicious, vegetarian lunch of assorted vegetables, snacks, ice cream and sweets, second segment of the seminar continued. Adv Y.P. Singh focused on women's denied rights and how we could deal formally/ informally/legally with them. He stressed the need for ‘Right to Information’ he said that it is very important to be well informed of all the assets and the liability of the family wealth and weigh the options with a open mind. Woman of the house should know her financial and the property status of the family. Dr Mahendra Mehta discussed the need for woman to know her rights. She should know about all the assets that are owned by the family such as shares, mutual funds, art and paintings, silver/gold/diamond ornaments, cash, real estate, etc. She should be aware of her property status, investments and retirement plans and she should have a proper understanding of taxation and various legal issues. He enlightened us on the financial issues, its understanding and methods of savings/long term plans. Adv Rajesh Mudholkar discussed the importance of 'Will Making', reading the finer prints and understanding the details which could help in facing the pressures of relatives. There were question/answer sessions which were discussed in great details and that added color and hue to the meeting. The seminar that lasted for over eight hours was not enough to satiate the curiosity of the empowered women. It was an interesting debate to drum the men’s minds and chew their brains for many more days, thereafter….

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