Burqa can't be forced on women, rules Bangladesh court

A bench of the Dhaka High Court Sunday also ordered the government to ensure that the cultural activities and sports in the educational institutions were not restricted in any manner.

Judges A.H.M. Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Sheikh Mohammed Zakir Hossain took notice of a news item published in a Bengali language daily newspaper Sunday, headlined "Rani Bhabani Mahila College -- Borka Na Porle Ashte Mana", which means the students of Rani Bhabani Women's College who don't wear burqa were barred from entering the college.

The news item said principal Mozammel Haque of the college located in Natore in Rajshahi district, western Bangladesh, has stopped any cultural activities and sports at the college and barred the female students without burqa from entering the college.
The court directed the government to immediately take action against the principal for imposing restrictions on the students about wearing the burqa.

The court ordered the principal to appear before it Aug 26 to explain the matter, The Daily Star said Monday.

It also asked the government to explain why imposition of restriction on cultural activities and sports in the educational institutions and offices and forcing the female students to wear burqa should not be declared illegal.

The courts have in the recent past issued orders against sexual harassment of women at work, on acid attacks on women and other social ills.

Nearly 90 percent of Bangladesh's 156 million population practices Islam.
The country has a tradition of cultural emancipation with an active role for women in public life. The country is currently ruled by a woman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and also has a woman, Khaleda Zia, as leader of opposition.

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