Muslim marriage certificates in Bangladesh will no longer bear the word virgin, following a landmark verdict by a landmark verdict by a High Court. Muslim marriage laws in this South Asian country require the bride to select one of three options on the certificate whether she is a Kumari (virgin), a widow or divorced. Bangladesh is the world’s third-largest Muslim majority nation and almost 90 per cent of its population are Muslims.
The country’s High Court ordered the government to remove the word virgin and replace it with unmarried after campaigners protested against the word terming it as humiliating and discriminatory. The court is expected to publish its full verdict by October, with the changes to the certificate likely to come into effect then.
“It is a landmark verdict. It’s a ruling that gives us the belief that we can fight and create more changes for women in the future. We filed a writ petition because asking whether someone’s a virgin or not is against the person’s right to privacy,” said a lawyer who was among the groups which in 2014 filed the case challenging the term.
The judgment also ordered authorities to introduce the options unmarried, widower or divorced for the groom on the certificate. A Muslim marriage registrar from Dhaka said that he is waiting for the Ministry of Law and Justice to officially inform them about the changes in the form.
“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,” he said.