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Women can't be forced to wear veil, rules Dhaka court

world Updated: Apr 09, 2010 15:41 IST

Muslim women cannot be forced to wear the veil while at work or in public, the Dhaka High Court has ruled while stating that it should be their personal choice.

It said in a ruling on Thursday that no one could force women, working at public and private educational institutions, to wear the veil or cover their heads against their will.

The court directed the education ministry to ensure the execution of its order.

It asked the education secretary to ensure that women were not harassed by their superiors at educational institutions.

Bangladesh is a largely-Muslim nation where women, active in political and public life, move without veils.

The verdict came in response to a writ petition filed to seek a directive following a newspaper report that a sub-district education officer of Kurigram insulted a female teacher for not wearing the veil in June last year.

The high court bench of woman judge Justice Syeda Afsar Jahan and Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain also asked the education secretary to carry out the directives given by this court in May last year on sexual harassment of women at the institutions.

The court May 14 last year directed the authorities concerned to form a five-member harassment complaint committee headed by a woman at every workplace and institution to investigate allegations of harassment of women.

The bench Thursday asked the secretary to transfer the official, Arif Ahmed, who passed the remark on Sultana Arjuman Huq, headmistress of Atmaram Bishweshwar Government Primary School.

Earlier in January this year, Ahmed apologised to Arjuman before the high court and the court acquitted him of the charge after Arjuman pardoned him.

Bengali language daily Shamokal June 26 last year reported that Arif Ahmed had called Sultana Arjuman Huq 'Beshya' (prostitute) at a meeting June 25.

Anjuman felt insulted and became sick after the incident, the report said.