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B’desh court removes ‘virgin’ word from marriage form

By IANS Updated: Aug 27, 2019 10:26 pm

Dhaka, Aug. 27 (IANS): Women in Bangladesh are no longer required to declare if they are virgins on marriage registration forms, the country’s top court has said in a landmark ruling after rights groups challenged the “humiliating and discriminatory” term.

The country’s high court ordered that “virgin” be replaced with “unmarried”. The other two options on the form — “widow” and “divorced” — remain unchanged.

Women’s rights groups, who had argued the word “virgin” was humiliating and discriminatory, welcomed Sunday’s verdict, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

Separately, the court said grooms now also must declare their marital status.

Marriage laws in the Muslim-majority Bangladesh have been criticized by women’s rights groups as restrictive.

The court said the Bengali word “kumari” must be removed from marriage registration forms. The word is used to describe unmarried women, but it can also mean “virgin”.

Lawyers for the groups who filed the case in 2014 had successfully argued that the marriage forms were humiliating and breached women’s privacy.

On Sunday, the court said the Bengali word “obibahita”, which unambiguously means “an unmarried woman” – must be used from now on instead of “kumari”.

The changes are expected to come into force in a few months when the full court verdict is officially published.

“It is a landmark verdict,” said Aynun Nahar Siddiqua, a lawyer involved in the case. She said she hoped the ruling would help advance women’s rights in Bangladesh.

By IANS Updated: Aug 27, 2019 10:26:11 pm