Bangladesh bride walks into the groom’s home in the stand for women’s rights
When 19-year-old Khadiza Akter Khushi led countless people to the house of her husband, she did not do it for her guests.
She did it for all the Bangladeshi girls she expected would follow in her footsteps.
The walk is regarded as a first in a state where, for centuries, the reverse has happened: men have walked into the houses of the brides on their wedding day.
“If boys can bring women to marriage, why can not women?” she asked BBC Bengali in the days after her wedding to Tariqul Islam had gone viral.
But it’s both inspired and horrified. 1 man suggested the couple and their families should be defeated with slippers.
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For Khadiza and her husband, it was, quite simply, the ideal thing to do.
“Tradition isn’t the problem here,” she told the BBC. “It is an issue of women’s rights. Today, if a woman goes to marry a boy, then nobody is harmed.
“Instead, abuse of women will fall, girls will receive their dignity. Nobody will be less than the other.”
The few were aware of the resistance to the union, held at a rural region beside the boundary with India last Saturday. Even members of their families weren’t initially keen.
But Tariqul, 27, says that they eventually came around. After all, they were doing nothing wrong.
“Many wed in court, many wed in the mosque. We had been married according to faith,” the newly-wed explained.
“There was a Kazi [union register], witnesses. That’s the way the union was registered. That is the formality of marriage. That is exactly what we did.
“It does not matter what people believe, what they say. Some folks will think otherwise, everybody is entitled to their view.”
According to tradition , the groom and his relatives go to the home of the bride, where the union and parties will occur, prior to the bride says goodbye to her family and goes to her husband’s home.
It’s happened like this since early times.
But in Meherpur, a district in western Bangladesh, something unique has happened: here, the bride came with her family to the groom’s home to marry, and later the groom transferred to the wife’s house.
The importance of this can’t be understated: for many guys, this could be considered humiliating. Some people would even call it outrageous.
This would not even happen in the towns of Bangladesh, let alone a little village. This couple has started their married life showing great courage.
Despite their confidence, it was a courageous decision. Bangladesh has made great strides towards equality in the last few decades and is the highest-ranked country in South Asia when it comes to gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum.
But serious issues remain. The passing of Nusrat Jahan Rafi – that, at 19, was the exact same age as the bride – made headlines around the globe. She was burnt alive after submitting a complaint for sexual harassment against her headmaster.
Meanwhile, the United Nations says around two-thirds of girls who marry will experience violence at the hands of the spouses, with half reporting assaults in the previous year.
And though the place of women is improving in areas like education, marriage legislation in the Muslim-majority nation have been criticised by women’s rights groups as restrictive and discriminatory.
It was just last month that the high court ruled that women would no longer be asked to declare whether they were virgins on union registration forms. Men did not have to make such a declaration.
Tariqul and Khadija are optimistic that their wedding will be another step towards true gender equality.
“I’m sure our union will send a message that a woman can do whatever a person can,” Tariqul told news agency AFP.
And even if not, they’re more than happy with their selection.
“We had a whole lot of fun in the marriage,” Khadiza stated.