Where do Syrian Christian Women Stand in the Interplay of Custom, Kinship and the Law?

Publication Information

Journal Title: South Asian Law Review Journal
Author(s): Nikita Lal
Published On: 14/02/2022
Volume: 8
First Page: 51
Last Page: 61
ISSN: 2456-7531
Publisher: The Law Brigade Publisher

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Nikita Lal, Where do Syrian Christian Women Stand in the Interplay of Custom, Kinship and the Law?, Volume 8, South Asian Law Review Journal, 51-61, Published on 14/02/2022, Available at https://salrj.thelawbrigade.com/articles/where-do-syrian-christian-women-stand-in-the-interplay-of-custom-kinship-and-the-law/


Law and society have a symbiotic relationship. Law seems to be omnipresent, and an integral pillar of civilisation, whether it is religion or a nation-state; law is the axis and foundation. To answer the question, which is more influential- the present societal norms or law; is a Herculean task as definitions no longer remain within lines and transcend customary understanding. The juxtaposition of affect and effect often comes about when law aims to change established norms. The Mary Roy judgement brought to court the age-old position of the Syrian Christian daughter in her father’s estate. The Syrian Christian community of Kerala, which imbibed Hindu traditions and kept its Christian faith, has made itself unique and distinct from other communities. Dowry has always been viewed as the norm, with the same entered in the Church registry at the beginning of the union; it is considered the daughter’s share and after her husband’s family receives the same, she no longer has any right in her father’s property. The Mary Roy judgement pitted Syrian Christian norms against the understanding of the Indian Succession Act in an attempt to expand the boundaries of the daughter’s rights. The capability of law to carry society to what is considered to be forward was tested in the events that followed the Mary Roy judgement. Equal rights are not just a matter of law and literacy as the discourse in society pointed out. The judgement shone light on the influence of law in the presence of a strong allegiance to prevailing custom and ideas of kinship.

Keywords: Syrian Christian community of Kerala, Mary Roy judgement, Dowry, Church, Indian Succession Act

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