By: Rina Chandran
Date: September 2nd 2016
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation
MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Women in parts of conflict-hit central and eastern India are more vulnerable to violence and eviction from their land because a decades-long insurgency has made it harder for them to claim equal land rights, according to a new study.
Thousands of people, mostly men, have been killed or gone missing in the insurgency since the late 1960s led by rebels known as Naxals, who claim they are fighting for the rights of poor farmers and landless indigenous people. That has left women to tend to families with few resources, including land.
In the 10 villages surveyed by land rights advocacy group Landesa in Jharkhand, only 4 percent of housing plots and 3 percent of agricultural plots were owned solely or jointly by women. In contrast, 59 percent of housing plots and two-thirds of agricultural plots were owned by men.
"Women face enormous problems when the death or disappearance of their fathers or husbands leaves them without access to land," said Naveen Kumar, head of research at Landesa.
"Their vulnerability comes from patriarchal norms and stalled development programmes because of the conflict," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Jharkhand is among the poorest states in India, where prevailing laws and tribal customs do not favour women owning land. When men die or disappear, their land and property are often claimed by male relatives, leaving their wives and daughters homeless and dependent on others, Kumar said.
Women who make claims to land are often subject to violence, with families even hiring militants to evict them, according to Landesa.