Only 3.8% of Kosovo women claim their inheritance rights
The case of A.SH, whose husband died before the war, leaving her with five orphans, and who’s been excluded from inheritance not getting any single acre of land to which her husband was entitled to through heritage, has touched the whole municipality of Decan.
The fact that she has not claimed her right for her personal interest, but rather seeking the right to which family members of the deceased were entitled to, was neglected her the family of her late husband.
Now she lives in a flat with her children, and has to provide income for well-being of the family, without any assistance whatsoever, and especially none from her husband’s family.
One woman only, out of over 40 thousand inhabitants in the municipality of Decan, was given the right to inheritance from her family. Over half of Kosovo population – 51%, are women, and only 3.8% have been given the right to inheritance. Currently, only 16% of properties are registered on the behalf of women.
Aiming at increase the awareness about the inheritance rights, many non-governmental organizations, the women’s association “Jeta” in Decan, among them, undertook different initiatives.
This association has launched a nine-month project the main focus towards respecting and recognizing the inheritance right of women.
Safete Gacaferi, founder and director of this association, says that the Kanun (Code) of Lekë Dukagjini the ancient mentality that was inherited, are primarily to be blamed, for the denial of the inheritance right of Kosovo women.
“Men are not ‘entirely aware’ for women’s inheritance right, and once this is achieved, women will also claim their rights”, she says.
Acknowledging that this project only cannot radically uproot the mentality, she considers this “only one step taken in this direction”.
A research conducted by “Jeta” last September, shows that majority of women do not feel equal, particularly in those families with daughters only, with no sons, where the inheritance still ends up in the hand of males in the family.
According to Antoneta Avdimetaj from “Jeta”, 561 women participated in this survey.
“Every third woman stated they had no knowledge of the inheritance law: around 70% of them said that in case they claimed their property rights they would suffer consequences, and only 30% of the respondents knew of some other women who owned a property on her name”, she rounds up the finding of this survey.
Musa Berisha, former head of the Council for Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms in Decan said that the Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini regards all people equal when it comes to human rights and freedoms.
“But, justice is not applied when it comes to inheritance, where women are more deprived then men, and this an inherited mentality since those times”, he says.
However, according to him, recently we have more adequate justice, which should have exited to begin with, and women are being treated equal to men, and we’re in a way ‘overcoming that mentality’”.
Luljeta Demolli, director of Kosovar Gender Studies Centre (KGSC), says that there’s as a chain of obstacles towards fulfilling women’s inheritance rights.
“Cases are long overdue, there are cases when families do not notify about the passing of their family members who have passed away, and when they do not notify other family members when the property is being divided”, she mentions several of these obstacles, blaming it on the patriarchal culture that still reigns in Kosovo.
She says that since 2006, when this center was established, KGSC has continually dealt with the issue of inheritance through surveys, though, in spite of hard work, very little has changed.