Women’s right to land: A critical analysis of the dispute resolution processes of inherited land under customary law and Islamic law. A case of Ilemela district Mwanza: Tanzania
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Women’s substantives right to inherit land from their deceased husband’s estate and their ability to enforce that right through various dispute resolution mechanisms are serious problems that affect thousands of women who live under either customary or Islamic law in Ilemela District, Mwanza in Tanzania This is because the perception of many societies in Tanzania is that women are inferior to men and this adversely affects women’s right to inherit land under customary and Islamic laws. Equality for all citizens before the law and access to justice are two human rights which make ideal tools to inherit land from their deceased husband. This study examines and analyse the challenges faced by women especially widows, not only when they seek to enforce their right before dispute resolution mechanisms which are controlled by men but the substantive rights to inherit land (under customary, Islamic and statutory law ) itself. These challenges essential undermine women’s right to inherit for example, under customary laws a widow does not have the right to inherit the land of her late husband; under Islamic law however women do not have the right to inherit land of their deceased husband or father in accordance with the Holy Quran These are additional factors that make women’s right to inherit of land problematic in Mwanza, and these include the conflicting and discriminatory approaches to women’s right to inherit land. While customary laws are highly patriarchal and fraught with gender discrimination, Islamic laws is based on the obedience of women to men and their submissive nature. In both cases, women are discouraged from pursuing their rights for fear for loosing their existing economic dependence on male family members or as a result of false accusations of witchcraft against them. The majority of respondents believed that the statutory law was the most supportive of their rights three systems of law as they confirm with the provisions of the Tanzania Constitution and other International human rights Conventions which prohibit discrimination against women. This study recommended that Tanzania should enact or reform its laws to abolish all discriminatory laws which undermine women’s rights to inherit land, and cooperate with international human rights instrument.