Bangladesh’s top court has ruled that women in the Muslim-majority country will no longer have to declare whether they are virgins on their marriage registration forms — a decision women’s rights groups say is a step in the right direction toward gender equality.
The high court ruled Sunday that “virgin” – or “kumari” in Bengali – will be replaced with “unmarried.”
The two other options on the form, “divorced” and “widow,” will remain.
Women’s rights groups have long argued that the word “virgin,” which has been used on marriage certificates since 1961, was humiliating, restrictive and discriminatory.
The ruling is considered a major victory for women’s rights groups in largely Muslim Bangladesh, which slammed the form’s requiring women to declare their sexual status on a marriage document.
“It is a landmark verdict,” said attorney Aynun Nahar Siddiqua.
The other two options on the form, “divorced” and “widowed,” will be unchanged.
In a separate order, the court also ruled Bangladeshi grooms must also declare their marital status on the registration form. Both changes will take effect once the full court order is published in the coming weeks.
Women’s rights groups have been fighting to change the marriage form since 2014.