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Women Can’t Be Muslim Marriage Registrar, Says Bangladesh HC

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A Bangladesh High Court bench has ruled that women cannot become Muslim marriage registrar.

The bench of Justices Zubayer Rahman Chowdhury and Kazi Zinat Hoque said the verdict was given considering ‘ ground realities’ in Bangladesh.

 Human rights activists of Bangladesh have reacted to the patriarchial verdict with disappointment.

The court verdict reads as follows :

“It has to be borne in mind that due to certain physical conditions,  a ‘lady’ cannot enter the mosque during a certain time of the month. She is even excused from performing the mandatory daily prayers during this particular time. 

“This ‘disqualification’ does not allow her to conduct the religious task. We are mindful of the fact that Muslim marriage is a religious ceremony and has to be guided by the terms and dictates of Islam.”

Recently, the full text of the verdict was released after the judges of the court signed it, bringing the court’s decision to light.

The judges upheld a government decision in 2014 denying women the job of marraige registrar.

The marriage ceremony is usually conducted either by the ‘ Nikah registrar’ himself or by the ‘imam’ of the local mosque of where the marriage ceremony takes’ place.

Earlier, in 2012, Ayesha Siddiqua of Dinajpur district applied for the post of marriage register against the circular asking for marriage registrars for Phulbarri municipality in Dinajpur district of Bangladesh.

Ayesha, then 31, applied for the position in three wards of Phulbarri municipality.Ayesha aced her interview with a five-member panel which sent her name to the law ministry for approval.

Two months later, Ayesha Siddiqua was informed by the milistry of law, that she could not be hired, because she is a woman.

Ayesha Siddiqua denied the decision lying down in June 2014, and filed a writ petition in the High Court (HC) of B’desh challenging the government’s decision based on the discrimination to women.

 Advocate Humayun Kabir moved the petition on behalf of Ayesha Siddiqua, Ayesha’s husband Md Solaiman said to the locals, Amar Chand Gupta, Editor of Daily ‘Desh Maa ‘confirmed to IANS on Monday night.

Ayesha  filed the petition because the job circular did not mention that, the post was only for men.

If it had explicitly mentioned that, she would not have applied.

The ministry of law of B’desh knew Ayesha, being a woman applied for the post.

Six years down, on 26 February 2021, Ayesha Siddiqua of Dinajpur was met with disappointment when the HC ruled against her and upheld the government’s decision.

” Registering a marriage is official process; it’s not religious process. Religious practice is not related with a registration work. So how a woman denied to work as a marriage register, Ayesha asked the media. She added, a marriage registrar will simply be registering the marriage,” asked Siddiqua in a reaction to the verdict on Monday to the media, Journalist Amar Chand said to IANS.

If people want a man to conduct a religious ritual, they can get a separate imam. The marriage registration can be done separately by the marriage registrar. 

The cleric, would only be conducting the religious part of the marriage ceremony, he is not a official staff of the ministry of law of Bangladesh to register the marriage.

Ayesha has filed an appeal with the Appellate Division, against the High Court’s decision, to get justice .

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