Previously the word ‘কুমারী’ (virgin) was part of question 5 of Bangladesh’s standardised Muslim marriage contract. The question asked whether the bride is a virgin, divorcee or widow. The high court directed the government to remove the word and use the word ‘অবিবাহিত’, unmarried, instead.
Previous Muslim marriage contract
The first question of the marriage contract or nikka form is about the address and the name of the ward in which the marriage is taking place. The second question and third question are about the name of the groom and groom’s parents and his age. The fourth line is to fill in the bride’s name and parental details. The fifth asks “konna kumari, bidhoba, othoba talak prapto ki na?” Then, one notes the brides age.
Some English versions of the marriage contract would translate kumari to maiden instead of virgin. Unmarried will now be the accurate translation.
Steps towards equality
This change came about as part of a joint effort between BLAST, Naripokkho and Mohila Porishod. They had filed the writ petition with the High Court in 2014 challenging the legality of number five column in the marriage contract or Kabinnama.
This is a step towards bringing equality into our law and life. This is also a move away from the culture of misogyny that permeates society.
The court did not make any directives towards the usage of the words ‘divorcee’ and ‘widower’ from the form. These words are unnecessarily discriminatory and cause privacy concerns. However, the ruling included a new item so that the groom is asked whether he is unmarried, divorced or a widower.
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