It is part of broader research by NRC´s legal assistance programme (ICLA) on housing, land and property rights for displaced and host communities. The research uncovered critical challenges for women´s return and recovery. The brief – Consequences of Evicting Widows – highlights the ‘traditional’ practice whereby the family of a deceased husband evicts his widow, and in some cases also their children, from the marital home. The widow is expected to return to live with her parents or other remaining family.
NRC´s research found that even though the law does not discriminate against women’s inheritance rights, in practice these are difficult for women to enforce. Most importantly, the ability of wife to inherit marital property depends on being in a formal or legal marriage. The vast majority of women – 90 per cent – are thought to be either in a traditional marriage or cohabiting, which means they have very little legal protection and limited recourse when evicted. This takes on even greater significance after the conflict when many husbands have been killed or are missing – and having a home is essential for women to rebuild their lives and take care of their family.
The brief has been shared with the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons during his recent mission to the Central African Republic, as well as the humanitarian community and donors. The recommendations to improve women´s ability to claim their HLP rights have been endorsed by the Humanitarian Coordinator.
NRC´s ICLA programme in the Central African Republic has been working with internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and host communities to improve knowledge about their HLP rights through information, counseling and capacity building activities – more information available here.