In Bangladesh, women are half of the whole population. Though they are not able to make progress in establishing their legal rights because of so many social, familiar and religious restrictions. In Bangladesh conservative society, women are deprived of property rights. Sometimes women are deprived of proper education as well. From the time of birth, a Muslim woman’s place in Bangladeshi society is not cheerfully presented. While a son is welcome into the world with a cry of “Allah-hu-Akbar” a female child receives only the whisper of the Qur’an Tilawat. After the birth of a girl, her relatives begin the interlocution for her marriage. Because daughters’ parents think of them as a burden and giving the daughter in marriage as if is the most important responsibility of parents.
There are many misconceptions surrounding women’s legal rights in Islam. This article is only to be viewed as an in-depth study of women’s legal rights in Islam regarding marriage and divorce. It is required to examine the legal status of Muslim women in Bangladesh in the context of these two parts of the law as in both cases women are supposedly fortified with legal rights, but there is a difference existing between theory and its actual procedure.
The Critical Issues of Muslim Women
According to Bangladeshi law, if the husband marries again without the consent of the Arbitration Council, the wife can divorce him. The wife can also apply for divorce on the grounds of the mental torture she endured because of her husband’s second or another marriage. Basically many women do not divorce for polygamy because of family, socio-economic reasons, even though they are most unkindly behaved when their husbands take a new wife and look down upon by the society.
According to the Marriages and Divorces (Registration) Act, 1974, “a Muslim man in Bangladesh can marry up to four wives at the same time, subject to the permission of his existing wives. An application for permission must be submitted to the council chairman stating the reasons for the proposed marriage and with the consent of the existing wife or wives. So, there some legal provision to protect the woman’s rights in the marriage, but it is up to the arbitration council to ensure that the provision is followed that the consent of the existing wife is sincere, and that she is not being coerced into it by her husband.” The law provides that, if the man wants to marry against the existing wife’s permission, he must without delay pay her the entire amount of the dower already accordant upon. “Failure to pay the dower will be an offense punishable with the maximum imprisonment of one year or with a fine which may extend to 10 thousand taka or both.”
Many women, especially in the rural areas do not divorce when their husbands marry a second time although they are inhumanly behaved by them, husband after they marry again. It was discover that second marriage often registered without the permission of the first wife as required by law. Characterless or dishonest husband does not register their second marriage at the same Nikah register’s office. They also hide their existing marriage in column 21 of the Kabinnama which requires a document regarding the existence of a previous wife. Sometimes they do not register a second marriage at all, as an unregistered marriage is still valid under personal law and society.
A legal study made on rural women in Bangladesh present that 77.8% of the second marriage registers and 90.5% were held without the permission of the first wife. It is marvellous to note that only one woman brought charges case against her husband for not giving notice to her about his second marriage. In fact, most husbands do not give notice of their second marriage to their existing first wife. Women are conscious that if they protest or complain they will suffer or will be victim ultimately. On the basis of conservation society they do not expect any love or respect from their husbands; their only concern is to get minimum maintenance, food, and shelter for their survival. A social stigma is attached to divorce. If a woman gets divorced or refused from her husband, her sisters or close family relatives do not easily get married and society, particularly in the rural areas, looks down upon her family.
The condition is that the witnesses must be two men or one man and two women who must be Muslim, who have attained the age of majority, and sane. The witnesses must clearly hear and comprehend the offer and acceptance of the marriage. In actual practice, however, as the marriage is consolidated by the guardians, they generally choose male witnesses. Sometimes, underage cousin and nephew of the groom who do not care about the acceptance or consent of the bride are voluntary or under the liability, sit in as witness to the wedding mainly in the rural areas.
3. Duty to Obey:
Excepting being faithful, a wife under Muslim customary law is required to be adherent to her husband. The practical stereo example of women as dependent and unreasonable plays an important vital role in approval the husband to demand devotee from the wife as rule of law. A wife cannot leave the home without her husband’s permission, without a valid reason such as visiting her own family. The adherent incumbent upon a wife reduce women’s status as human beings valuable of equal status in the eye of the law. The concept contravenes article 11 which guarantees fundamental Human Rights freedom and respect for the dignity and worth as a human being, Article 32 right to personal liberty and article 36 rights to freedom of movement of the Constitution.
Islam allows the divorce to both men and women to avoid dreadful consequences to the family. In Islam, men and women do not situate on the same balance in marriage and divorce. According to the Qur’an brought some innovative changes in the marriage and divorce rights of women. The longer a marriage has lasted, the greater a wife’s economic and psychosomatic dependence on her husband. The wife has sacrificed her career to marry him and have his children. A wife also has furthered his career during the process. In spite of all this, her husband can easily practice polygamy and her option is to consent or seek out a divorce. If the wife divorces, she has no right to a share of the marital property or post-divorce maintenance, no matter how much she has contributed.