South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

The High Court yesterday issued a suo moto order directing the government to ensure that no woman is forced to wear borkha (veil) or religious attires at the educational institutions and offices across the country.

The court also ordered the government to ensure that the cultural activities and sports in the educational institutions are not restricted in any manner.

An HC bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain came up with the order following a news item published in a Bangla daily yesterday with the headline “Rani Bhabani Mahila College – Borka Na Porle Ashte Mana” meaning the students of Rani Bhabani Women’s College without veils are barred from entering the college.

The news item said the Principal of the college in Natore Mozammel Haque, who joined the college two months ago, has stopped any cultural activities and sports at the college and restricted the entrance of the students (female) without borkha or veil to the college.

The HC directed the government to immediately take action against the principal for imposing restrictions on the students regarding wearing veil and stopping cultural activities and sports at the college.

The court ordered Mozammel to appear before the HC bench on August 26 to explain the matter.

It also issued a rule upon 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 veil should not be declared illegal.

Secretaries to the ministries of home, education, social welfare and women affairs and Mozammel Haque have been made respondents to the rule and order.

Supreme Court lawyers barrister Mahbub Shafique and advocate KM Hafizul Alam placed the matter through an application before the HC bench.

Earlier on April 8 this year, the HC had ruled that none can force women, working at public and private educational institutions, to wear veils or cover their heads against their will.

It is their personal choice, the court said, asking the education secretary to make sure that women are not harassed by their superiors at educational institutions.

Source: The Daily Star – 23.08.2010