Outcry after Dhaka court bars women marriage registrars

Women activists join in a candlelight protest demanding justice for the recent rape incident in Dhaka on January 9, 2021. Bangladeshi women are also protesting a high court ruling barring them from becoming Muslim marriage registrars. (REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain)
Women activists join in a candlelight protest demanding justice for the recent rape incident in Dhaka on January 9, 2021. Bangladeshi women are also protesting a high court ruling barring them from becoming Muslim marriage registrars. (REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain)
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Updated 14 January 2021

Outcry after Dhaka court bars women marriage registrars

Outcry after Dhaka court bars women marriage registrars
  • The Dhaka High Court last week rejected a petition by a woman refused employment as a Muslim marriage registrar on the grounds that she is a woman

DHAKA: Bangladeshi women are calling for a high court ruling barring them from becoming Muslim marriage registrars to be overturned, saying the verdict breaches their constitutional rights.

The Dhaka High Court, citing “certain physical conditions,” last week rejected a petition by Ayesha Siddiqua, from Dinajpur in northern Bangladesh, who was refused employment as a Muslim marriage registrar on the grounds that she is a woman.

The court, referring to menstruation, said that women in the Muslim-majority country “cannot enter a mosque during a certain time of the month,” and this “physical disqualification” means they cannot conduct religious tasks such as registering marriage.

Women politicians, lawyers and activists reacted angrily to the verdict.

“It rejects the concept of equal rights for women. I protest against the decision,” ruling Awami League MP Meher Afroz Chumky told Arab News on Tuesday.

Chumky, the party’s women’s affairs secretary, and a former minister for women’s and children’s affairs, called the court decision “humiliating.”

“Women are allowed to offer prayers in the mosque in Saudi Arabia, but in Bangladesh we rarely see this. I think it’s time to change the people’s mindset,” she said.

Salma Ali, president of the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association, said that “physical issues” should not be the basis for refusing women employment as marriage registrars.

“It’s very sad. The reasons mentioned in the verdict don’t justify barring women from acting as Muslim marriage registrars. If necessary, the court could seek opinions from Islamic scholars to find a reasonable way out,” she said.

Fawzia Karim Firoze, who is overseeing Siddiqua’s appeal to the Supreme Court, said that Bangladeshi women work in all sectors of society and should not be barred from job of marriage registrar.

“Our women even serve in the armed forces. So, they can’t be barred from joining as marriage registrars,” she told Arab News.

“Women have been performing as Muslim marriage registrars for many years in the UAE and Egypt also. The marriage registrar performs the registration of the marriage only and the person has nothing to do with religion. In Muslim marriage, the religious parts are taken care of by any imam.”

Mufti Mizanur Rahman, khatib of the national mosque, Baitul Mukarram, said that if other Muslim countries allow women to perform as Muslim marriage registrars, there is a chance that Bangladesh will review the decision “in the light of Islamic guidelines.”

 “The Holy Qur’an didn’t say anything regarding women working as marriage registrars,” he said.

Activists say that the ban ignores the country’s constitution.

“In our religion there is no guideline barring women from performing as Muslim marriage registrars. This type of decision is contrary to our constitutional rights,” human rights defender Khushi Kabir said.

“It seems like a gender-biased decision, and there is scope to review it after more consultation. I hope the Supreme Court will consider it in a pragmatic way,” she said.

 


China: US military in South China Sea not good for peace

China: US military in South China Sea not good for peace
Updated 13 min 39 sec ago

China: US military in South China Sea not good for peace

China: US military in South China Sea not good for peace
  • China has repeatedly complained about US Navy ships getting close to islands it occupies in the South China Sea

BEIJING: The United States often sends ships and aircraft into the South China Sea to “flex its muscles” and this is not good for peace, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday, after a US aircraft carrier group sailed into the disputed waterway.
The strategic South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade flows each year, has long been a focus of contention between Beijing and Washington, with China particularly angered by US military activity there.
The US carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt and accompanied by three warships, entered the waterway on Saturday to promote “freedom of the seas,” the US military said, just days after Joe Biden became US president.
“The United States frequently sends aircraft and vessels into the South China Sea to flex its muscles,” the foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, told reporters, responding to the US mission.
“This is not conducive to peace and stability in the region.”
China has repeatedly complained about US Navy ships getting close to islands it occupies in the South China Sea, where Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan all have competing claims.
The carrier group entered the South China Sea at the same time as Chinese-claimed Taiwan reported incursions by Chinese air force jets into the southwestern part of its air defense identification zone, prompting concern from Washington.
China has not commented on what its air force was doing, and Zhao referred questions to the defense ministry.
He reiterated China’s position that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and that the United States should abide by the “one China” principle.
Biden’s new administration says the US commitment to Taiwan is “rock-solid.”
The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is the democratic island’s most important international backer and main arms supplier, to China’s anger.