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Bangladesh court replaces word 'virgin' by 'unmarried' on marriage certificates

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".

India TV News Desk Edited by: India TV News Desk New Delhi Published on: August 27, 2019 15:45 IST
Marriage forms in Bangladesh
Image Source : REPRESENTATIONAL

Bangladesh court removes 'virgin' word from marriage forms

In a landmark ruling, the top court in Bangladesh has announced women will no longer be required to declare if they are virgins, on their marriage registration forms. The move came after the rights groups had challenged the "humiliating and discriminatory" term. According to the high court ruling, the term 'virgin' will now be replaced by 'unmarried'. The other two options in the form -- "widow" and "divorced" -- remain unchanged.

The verdict was welcomed by the women's rights group, that had earlier argued the word "virgin" was humiliating and discriminatory.

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

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