A legislator in the Bangladesh Parliament called for the creation of a law banning working couples from getting married.
Independent lawmaker Rezaul Karim Bablu, who represents a constituency in the northwestern Bogra district, laid down his proposal during a September 4 parliamentary session. He said he believes the country’s unemployment problems stem from marriages between working men and women.
“This unemployment problem cannot be solved with working men marrying working women, or working women marrying working men. That's why the unemployed people always remain unemployed in the country,” Bablu said, as reported by the Dhaka Tribune. “If this law is enacted, there'll be no unemployment problem in the country.”
The lawmaker added that a law banning employed couples from tying the knot would also prevent violence against children.
“If both the husband and the wife are working, they have to leave behind their child or children at home alone. This is how many children are abused and tortured by domestic help,” he said. “If we get a law in this regard, such repressive acts will decline in the country substantially.”
Bablu’s proposal elicited laughter and ridicule from several ministers.
“Sorry, I just cannot move forward, even one or two steps from my position, to entertain such a proposal,” said law minister Anisul Haque, shutting down Bablu’s recommendation. Haque went on to deem the proposal “unconstitutional.”
In turn, Bablu called critics of his proposal, “perverted intellectuals.”
“My proposal was not meant to contradict women's empowerment. Rather, I am worried about the future of children. Unfortunately, many people are now criticizing my opinion. I did not mention any gender priority or disparity. Rather, I verbally made the proposal for the betterment and preservation of the family unit,” Bablu told VICE World News.
Despite the criticism, Bablu says he has a considerable number of supporters. “If you examine opinions on social media where my opinion is being discussed, you will find that 95 percent of the opinions are in my favour, while the remaining five percent belong to others.”
Bablu is no stranger to controversy. In a parliamentary session in 2020, he claimed that feminists and women’s rights activists were behind the rise in rape incidents in the country. He also echoed a theory by the former leader of Islamist group Hefajat-e-Islam that likened women to tamarinds that need to be covered for their protection.
“If the tamarind theory is used, the rapists would be discouraged from rape… and religious sentiments would grow within them,” Bablu was quoted by The Daily Star as saying.
Bablu drew widespread criticism for these statements.
In the same year, Bablu sparked controversy when a photo of him holding a pistol was posted on Facebook, in violation of Bangladesh’s gun laws that prohibit the unnecessary public display of legal firearms.