DHAKA - In a controversial view to many Muslims, Bangladesh's attorney general has called for changing laws to allow equal inheritance rights for women and men and ban polygamy.
"If a family does not have a male child, the female child should be treated as one for succession," Attorney General Mahbubey Alam was quoted by Bangladesh 24 website as saying on Saturday, June 22.Even if there is no male child, it has to be assumed there is one," he added during a discussion on suggested amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC).
Under the current law, Muslim girls inherit half of her father's property if she has no brothers.
The rest goes to her uncles, aunts and grandparents, according to Islamic Shari`ah.
The attorney general opined that the amendment would benefit thousands of families and female children.
Bangladesh is the world's third-largest Muslim majority nation with a population of some 148 million.
The country has a secular legal system but in matters related to inheritance and marriage Muslims follow Sharia`h.
The secular notions of the country were first enshrined in the 1972 constitution drafted under the leadership of the country's founding father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Islam, as a divine religion, sets down rules that strike a balance between men's responsibilities and women's rights.
Islam gives the girl half of her brother's share in inheritance because Islamic Law doesn't oblige her to spend any money on anybody other than herself.
On the other hand, Muslim man, who is usually the bread-winner of the family, is obliged to spend on his wife, his children, his brothers, his sisters, and his mother and father.
Adding to the controversy, the attorney general suggested amendments to ban Muslim men from getting a second wife.
"Muslim men will have to be denied a second marriage because this is cause for tears for so many women," Alam said.
"During my last four and half years as Attorney General, I have seen so many women ruined as their husbands went for a second marriage."
Islam sees polygamy as a realistic answer to some social woes like adulterous affairs and lamentable living conditions of a widow or a divorced woman.
A Muslim man who seeks a second or a third wife should, however, make sure that he would treat them all on an equal footing, even in terms of compassion.
The Noble Qur'an says that though polygamy is lawful it is very hard for a man to guarantee such fairness.