Islamic Inheritance Law in Indonesia: the Experiences of Banjar Women

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Copyright: Hasan Basuni, Lena Hanifah
One of the critical inheritance challenges faced by Muslim women in Indonesia is Kalala. This principle applies where a parent dies without a surviving son, which has a profound impact on women. It reflects the very different treatment of men and women in inheritance affairs and has the potential to bring serious hardship for women. This thesis examines the experiences of Banjar women in encountering this issue, specifically in the context of legal pluralism of Indonesia, where Islamic law, Adat law, and state law coexist and interact with each other. It poses the question of how Muslim women perceive their experience regarding this issue, what are the contributing factors in the formation of women’s legal consciousness about their inheritance rights, and how they navigate between the available legal orders to address their inheritance dilemmas. The thesis adopts an empirical approach in order to capture the complexity of experiences of women regarding their inheritance rights. The analysis is based on a qualitative method with the fieldwork conducted in three districts of South Kalimantan, Indonesia: Banjarmasin, Banjar, and Hulu Sungai Tengah. This socio-legal study offers insights not only into how Muslim women access justice in both the formal and informal justice systems in a practical sense. It also examines their legal consciousness and its transformation in the emergence of inheritance disputes. It argues that women’s choice to access or not to access justice does not appear out of a vacuum. Their legal consciousness, in the context of legal pluralism where patriarchal values persist, helps to structure the process of inheritance distribution. The research has revealed that women’s access to justice is significantly influenced by their legal consciousness, which in turn is shaped by certain factors including historical, religious-cultural context, the notion of kodrat (God’s will, the power of nature, or natural destiny), and the presence of authoritative men in the family. It concludes that, although the informal justice system, in the form of Adat Badamai, provides religious assurance and legitimation for women, more women should be able to access the formal justice system, embodied by the Religious Court, as the forum most suited to deliver justice in the resolution of disputes.
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PhD Doctorate
UNSW Faculty
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