March 19, 2016 | Saturday

Fetus without property rights – by Vjosa Musliu

When we face barbaric cases of violence against women, having a debate on reasons that led to violence takes us anywhere. Violence against women, or even murdering women, is not only an outcome of their husbands’ misjudgment, or economic circumstances, or as is usually assumed – jealousy. All of us, including women, men, and family members, contribute to this structural cycle of violence.

For traditional and not-so-traditional Kosovo families, the structural cycle of violence and exclusion starts at identification of child’s gender during pregnancy. If the child is a boy, parents (read: father) start to think about house space, income, retirement, etc. The boy gets marries. He brings to his parents’ home his wife. Other children will be born in that same house, irrespective if there is physical space or not. The boy – later the husband – is part of home in sociological sense, and he is the inheritor of property and family name in the legal sense.

In cases when it becomes known that the gender of the conceived baby is a girl, these calculations are postponed for some time. They are postponed until hopefully a boy will be born. A girl is a girl! From the fetus stage, she is only a temporary resident of the house, a temporary holder of the family name, and in other words, she is for “someone else’s door”. Not considering the girl as “permanent” part of the family name and inheritance, to this day Kosovo parents (read: father) are in search of a male successor even after four girls. What a bad luck!

A girl fetus is not part of the property inheritance, despite the fact that the constitution guarantees such a provision. Shame and tradition are more valuable that constitution and human rights at the end of the day. It is only transferred from father’s property to husband’s property, without having for girls any say on property, or power, or above all, dignity. This way, being a “swag”, the girls don’t even think that they enjoy several basic rights: the right not to be discriminated, right not to be beaten, right to report husband/father, and the right not to hide from shame.

The strongest curse in Kosovar society, and which is only said for females, is “hope you remain wandering around”. If you don’t have a husband, you don’t have a home. If you have a husband, he is your only home. If you leave from there because you cannot breathe, because your eyes are swollen from violence, because you cannot stand it anymore, you will remain wandering around. You are homeless! You don’t have property. You don’t have moral and cultural right to ask for property.

Therefore, when you get mad when you see husbands who rape or kill their wives, don’t blame only them as husbands. Reflect to what extent your father, brother, uncle or mother contributes to this cycle of violence. Of the violence as tradition and normality.