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Bangladesh: Government Ordered to Protect Women’s Right Not to Wear Veil

(Sept. 2, 2010) The High Court of Bangladesh issued an order on August 23, 2010, directing the government to ensure that women are not forced to wear the veil or other religious dress in educational institutions and public offices. The ruling was issued in response to a petition filed by two Supreme Court lawyers when students were barred from attending classes at a state-run women's college in northern Bangladesh for not wearing veils. According to a news report, “[t]he high court judges passed the order directing that wearing religious attire should be the personal choice of the students or the employees. No one can be forced to wear them.” (Veil Can't Be Forced: HC, THE DAILY STAR (Aug. 23, 2010),

The High Court also directed the college principal to appear before the bench on August 26, 2010, to explain the matter. In addition, the court ordered 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 [sic] should not be declared illegal.” (Id.)

In a decision issued in connection with a complaint lodged by a school headmistress who was verbally assaulted by a government official for not covering her hair during a staff meeting, the High Court ruled in April 2010 that women should not be forced to wear the veil or to cover their heads in educational institutions or other work places. (Id.)