Women fight to save inheritance rights

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 October, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 October, 1995, 12:00am

WOMEN'S groups yesterday attacked the Preliminary Working Committee (PWC) proposals to scrap the law giving indigenous women land inheritance rights.

They said the PWC had 'sacrificed equality for political and economic interests'.

The PWC says the controversial amendment to the New Territories Land (Exemption) ordinance should be scrapped because it contravenes the Basic Law, which protects the traditions and rights of indigenous villagers.

Federation of Women's Centres spokesman Linda Wong Sau-yung said the proposal defied the spirit of sexual equality pledged by China and spelled out in mainland law.

She believed the group did not represent the mainland's views, saying the Beijing-appointees were motivated by their own interests.

'They are sacrificing equality for political and economic interests,' she said.

The controversial amendment passed last year was spearheaded by legislator Christine Loh Kung-wai and extended land inheritance rights to female indigenous villagers.

If revoked, the women will not be able to inherit property in the New Territories.

However, Ms Wong was reluctant to jump to the conclusion that Chinese authorities were insincere about fighting for sexual equality.

She said the proposals were 'incomprehensible' since China had recently agreed to the United Nations' Beijing Declaration, which pledged to protect women's equality by promoting equal access to resources, including land.

She urged the mainland to listen to grassroots groups and accept the amended law, which had been debated and passed by an elected body.

She feared the Government could be persuaded by unrepresentative groups, such as the PWC, and fail to understand the situation in the territory.