The High Court (HC) on Sunday directed replacement of the term “maiden” with “unmarried” in the marriage registration form.
Hearing a writ petition against the use of the term “maiden” for women, the HC bench of justices Naima Haider and Khizir Ahmed Chowdhury also directed that the categories “unmarried”, “married” and “divorced” be included in the form for men.
Advocate ZI Khan Panna and Ainunnhar Siddika stood in favour of the writ petition filed on September 7, 2014; Deputy Attorney General Amit Talukder represented the state in the hearing.
Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, Naripokkho and Bangladesh Mahila Parishad filed the writ petition, saying asking only women to provide information about their marital status and sexual history in the marriage registration form is a violation of their fundamental rights.
The petitioners said it was particularly a violation of the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sex and the right to be treated equally in accordance with law, as guaranteed under Articles 27, 28, 31 and 32 of the constitution.
Apart from that, the inclusion of entry number 5 requires only women to make a statement regarding their marital status and sexual experience, while it does not require men to do so, which is therefore discriminatory.
Interference with the privacy of only women is also in conflict with the equity of rights guaranteed to women under Article 27 of the constitution, the petition mentioned.
Besides, the entry number 5 is in conflict with the international Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as it discriminates between women and men on the basis of sex and marital status and impairs the dignity of women through invasion of their privacy.
In response to the writ petition, a High Court bench of justices Naima Haider and Md Jahangir Hossain issued a ruling on September 14, 2014, asking the government to explain why the provision of entry number 5 in the marriage registration form would not be declared illegal.
Secretaries to the Ministry of Public Administration and Religious Affairs, director general of the Department of Printing and Publications, and deputy director of the Bangladesh Form and Publication Office were made respondents to the ruling.