The legal status of the Muslim women (1) in Bangladesh is defined by the principles
of Sharia through Muslim Personal Law along with the general law which is
non-religious and secular in its character. The Muslim personal law covers the
field of marriage, divorce, maintenance, guardianship of children and
inheritance whereas the general law covers the rights under the Constitution,
penal codes, the civil and criminal procedure codes, evidence act etc.
On 7th June 1988, the members of
the controversially elected parliament of Bangladesh passed the Constitution
(8th Amendment) Bill imposing Islam as the state religion of the country which
broke away from another religious-based country - Pakistan - only 17 years ago.
The four pillars of the Constitution of Bangladesh originally were nationalism,
democracy, secularism and socialism. Secularism and socialism were dropped from
the Constitution in 1977 to be replaced by ‘total faith in Allah’ and ‘social
Bangladeshi women who face harassment from males lack any access to avenues of social or legal redress. The suicide of Simi Banu tragically highlights the need for the law to protect not only female ‘modesty’, but the very right to equality.