Bangladesh directs schools against forcing veils on women
Bangladesh on Wednesday issued a strict directive asking authorities at schools and other seminaries not to force girl students to wear veils or bar them from participating in sports and cultural activities.
Dhaka: Bangladesh on Wednesday issued a strict
directive asking authorities at schools and other seminaries
not to force girl students to wear veils or bar them from
participating in sports and cultural activities.
"No female student can be forced to wear religious
clothing or `burqa` (veil) in educational institutions or be
barred from taking part in sports and cultural activities," an
education ministry spokesman told PTI quoting the official
He said the violation of the directives would be
treated as "ill-conduct" on the part of the seminary
authorities and they would have to face legal actions.
The education ministry circular came three days after
the High Court issued an order asking the government to ensure
that no women are forced to wear "burqas" or veils or any
religious dress in educational institutions or offices.
A two-member bench comprising judges A H M Shamsuddin
Chowdhury Manik and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain issued the
suo moto order after a lawyer drew its attention to a report
that the principal of a government women`s college in
north-western Natore had asked his students to come to the
college wearing veils.
The report said the Principal Mozammel Haque, who
joined the college two months ago, stopped cultural activities
and sports at the college and restricted the entrance of the
women students who do not wear a burqa.
The court also ordered personal appearance of the
principal of the college on August 26 to explain his actions
and also asked the government to ensure that cultural
activities and sports in the educational institutions are not
restricted in any manner.
The bench directed the government to take immediate
actions against the principal for imposing restrictions on the
The order came four months after another bench of the
High Court issued a similar ruling barring educational
institutions from forcing their female teachers wearing veils
or covering their 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 said in a ruling
in April this year and asked the education ministry to ensure
enforcement of the order.
The ruling came on a public interest litigation suit
filed by a rights group months after an education official
used abusive words for the dress of a school headmistress at a
meeting at north-western Kurigram.
Bangladesh is a Muslim majority country, but only a
small number of women wear burqas or full veils. Many of them,
however, wear headscarves.