High Court in Bangladesh Ruled: Term ‘Virgin’ Removed from Marriage Certificate

Bangladesh is the world’s third-largest Muslim majority nation and nearly 90 percent of its 168 million population are Muslims. About a month ago, the country’s top court ruled that the word “virgin” must be removed from Muslim marriage certificates. This verdict is a big milestone given the energy, work and time that campaigners put in to challenge the “humiliating and discriminatory” term.

The Courts verdict

In the South Asian country, Muslim marriage law is clear according to the different selections of a woman’ status. The bride has to select one of three options on the mariage certificate, she is either a a Kumari (virgin), a widow or divorced. However, grooms are not required to declare their marital status.

In a brief verdict , the nation’s High Court ordered the government to remove the term and replace it with the term “unmarried”, Deputy Attorney General Amit Talukder told AFP news agency. The court is expected to publish the full verdict by October. The changes to the certificate will likely be in effect by then.

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Against the right to privacy

Several rights groups have been criticizing the term ever since it has been in use in 1961. They claim it breaches the privacy of the woman getting married. The court also decided that grooms will now have to reveal their marital status too. Aynun Nahar Siddiqua, one of the lawyers representing the case’s petitioners, told CNN.

“The judge agreed that it is a violation of women’s privacy and fundamental rights.”

“It’s a ruling that gives us the belief that we can fight and create more changes for women in the future,” Siddiqua added.

Unfortunately, no one from the government was available to comment about the change ruled by the court or when it was to be implemented.

Mohammad Ali Akbar Sarker is a Muslim marriage registrar from Bangladesh. He told Reuters that registrars like him were waiting to be officialy informed by the Ministry of Law and Justice about the changes according to the marriage certificate.

“I have conducted many marriages in Dhaka and I have often been asked why men have the liberty to not disclose their status but women don’t. I always told them this wasn’t in my hands. I guess I won’t be asked that question any more,” said Sarker.