By Samuel Ouma | @journalist_27
A court ruling which gave women a nod to inherit property that belongs to their father has sparked heated debate pitting women against men.
Women’s movement hailed the ruling saying it promoted women’s rights to inheritance and property ownership.
“This is a good decision. The Judiciary should continue leading the way in discarding sections of customary law that oppress women and deny them their rights,” said Ms. Emma Njora, one of the movement leaders.
However, men’s movement castigated the verdict noting that courts are known for favouring women. They said it is wrong for the legal system to do away with customary ways of life and traditions.
“For a long time women have been viewed as a marginalized group, but that is no longer the case. Men have become marginalized and are now being oppressed by institutions through law,” reiterated men’s movement national chairman Nderitu Njoka.
He continued, “African communities have their own rules and regulations on inheritance, and they should be allowed to uphold them.”
Men and women had varied opinions with men feeling the ruling was against them. While addressing the Pan African Visions, women expressed their joy while men felt disadvantaged.
“Women have been remembered. We have been ignored for long. Enough is enough. Soon we will start enjoying our fathers’ property. Men have no option but to adhere to the court’s ruling,” said one female resident.
“This ruling has enriched women while impoverishing men. In African culture a woman belongs to her husband’s clan and has no right to inherit any property from her father unless it is out of goodwill after a thorough consultation by the brothers,” one male resident retorted.
On Wednesday Justice Lucy Waithaka asserted that women qualify to inherit property of their fathers. In her ruling, she argued that the Law of Succession under the 2010 Constitution allowed all children of a deceased father to inherit his property.
“The Law of Succession disregards customary law and allows all the children of the deceased, inclusive of married daughters, whether or not maintained by the deceased prior to his death, to benefit from his wealth,” she ruled.
The African customary law only recognizes men as the inheritors of the family’s property.