• Friday, Dec 02, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Kumari or not

  • Published at 06:03 pm August 31st, 2019
Representational photo: Bigstock

Recent changes to our marriage registration form show true progress

Traditionally, in our country, Muslims get married following Muslim marriage laws and tie themselves in a holy relationship. In this matrimonial context, the Muslim marriage certificate or Nikahnama bears significance as the contract in which wedding terms and conditions are mentioned for the bride and groom.

Importantly, the form of Nikahnama has been prescribed under Section 9 of the Muslim Marriages and Divorces (Registration) Act 1974. However, according to this abovementioned act, column 5 of the Nikahnama asks: “Konna kumari, bidhoba, othoba talak prapto ki na?” 

Therefore, the bride has to make a statement in the marriage certificate regarding her marital status and sexual history, specifically stating whether she is “maiden” or “widowed” or “divorced.”

What safeguards women’s rights?

Column 5 is objectionable and contradictory to Article 43 of our constitution, which guarantees that every citizen shall have the right to privacy of their correspondence and other means of communication. So, a woman has the constitutional right to maintain her privacy.

In my opinion, asking to state whether a bride is maiden or not is a breach of the right to privacy, and obviously disrespectful for a woman.

In a similar vein, the abovementioned column is also contradictory to Article 28(1) of the constitution which guarantees that the state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. Hence, it can never be supported if a bride has to curtail her constitutional rights due to gender discrimination.

Also, there is a prescribed way that individuals are entitled to enjoy the same human rights and fundamental freedoms. Women are not exceptions. 

Comparing this issue with a case in the Indian Supreme Court, it was held in Sharda v Dharmpal (2003) that “privacy” was defined as the state of being free from intrusion or disturbance in one’s private life or affairs. Thus, this principle of this case also safeguards a bride on this issue.

I am quite certain that many people, especially feminists, have thought that if the bride is bound to do so, why not the groom as well? However, the High Court Division of the Supreme Court has given an answer to this question.

It is noted that a writ petition filed jointly in 2014 by Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), Naripokkho, and Bangladesh Mohila Parishad of the High Court challenged the legality of column 5 of the Kabinnama form, which included the word “kumari,” “widower,” and “divorced” before the name of the bride.

Following that, a High Court bench of Justice Naima Haider and Justice Khizir Ahmed Choudhury gave the direction to the government to amend the form of Kabinnama excluding the word “Kumari” in front of the bride’s name and including the words unmarried, widower, or divorced before the name of the groom.

The High Court has also asked the government to include clause 4(A) in the form, which will stipulate the marital status of a groom, stating “married, widower, or divorcee” -- which is a good move. However, the court did not make any authoritative instructions towards the usage of the words “divorcee” and “widower” in the marriage form.

So, the changes to column 5 of the marriage registration form (which was designed during the Pakistan era) have yet to come into effect since the independence of our country. Beyond a shred of doubt, this step should bring equality and keep up the interrelation between our law, life, and culture.

In the end, this step should maintain an individual’s right to privacy. Also, the obstacles that slow down the march towards gender equality should be removed, and true equality will be established. 

Shahriar Bin Wares is a student of Law, North South University.

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail