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Bangladesh marriage certificates must not contain word ‘virgin’, court rules

media Bangladeshi women march in the street as they take part in a rally to mark International Women's Day in Dhaka, 8 March 2019. AFP/Munir Uz Zaman

Bangladesh’s top court ordered the word “virgin” removed from marriage certificates on Sunday after rights groups complained the term was humiliating and discriminatory.

Under the Muslim-majority country’s marriage laws, a bride has to select one of three options on a marriage certificate: widowed, divorced or “kumari” (virgin).

After a brief verdict, the court ordered the government to remove the term and replace it with “unmarried”.

The change is expected to come into effect after the court publishes its fullverdict, no later than October.

Rights groups have long criticised the term, which was introduced in 1961.

They filed the case to challenge the term in 2014, arguing the term breaches the privacy of the woman getting married.

The judgment also ordered authorities to introduce the same three options – unmarried, widowed or divorced – for the groom on the certificate.

The South Asian country is the world’s third-largest Muslim majority nation, with Muslims making up nearly 90 percent of its population of 168 million people.


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