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Don’t force women to wear burqa: Bangladesh HC

Dhaka: In a landmark ruling, Bangladesh’s High Court has directed the government to ensure that women are not forced to wear burqa or any other religious dress in educational institutions or offices.

A two-member bench comprising judges AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain issued the suo motu order on Sunday 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.

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