Bangla HC issues order against forcing women to wear burqa

A two-member bench comprising judges AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain issued the suo motu order yesterday after taking note of a newspaper report that principal of a women government college in northwestern Natore had asked students to come to the institute wearing veils, according to court officials.

The newspaper had reported that principal Mozammel Haque, who joined the college two months ago, stopped cultural activities and sports at the institute and restricted entry of girl students without burqa.

The court also ordered personal appearance of the principal before it on August 26 to explain his actions and simultaneously asked the government to ensure that cultural activities and sports in the educational institutions are not restricted in any manner.

The government was also directed to take immediate actions against the principal.

The order came four months after another bench of the High Court issued a similar ruling barring educational institutions from forcing woman teachers to wear veils or cover heads against their will.

"It is their (women's) personal choice if they wear veils or cover their heads," the court comprising judges Syed Mahmud Hossain and Justice Syeda Afsar Jahan had said in the ruling in April and asked the Education Ministry to ensure enforcement of the order.

The verdict had come on a public interest litigation suit filed by a rights group, months after a government education official insulted a school headmistress over the dress she was wearing at a meeting at northwestern Kurigram.

The court at that time also ordered transfer of sub-district education official Arif Ahmed to a different place as a punitive action.

However, the bench had acquitted him of a criminal charge for his comments after he apologised to the woman teacher before the High Court and she pardoned him.

Despite being a Muslim majority country, a small number of women wear burqas in Bangladesh.

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