No burqa, no problem, says B'desh court

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s High Court has ordered police in the Muslim-majority country to stop harassing women who choose not to wear the full-face veil, lawyers said today.

The order was in response to police

officers in the northern town of Rangpur who on Monday detained nine teenage couples found in “compromising positions” at a local zoo and allegedly ordered the girls to wear the burqa or niqab. Wearing the veil is not mandatory in Bangladesh and the police action drew loud protests from women’s rights groups, prompting lawyers to apply to the High Court for a ruling on the issue.

“The High Court ordered late on Tuesday that if a girl or a woman does not wear

a burqa, she cannot be harassed or

humiliated by anyone,” lawyer Mahbub Shafiq, one of the petitioners, told AFP. Deputy attorney general Rajik Al Jalil confirmed the ruling, saying: “A girl can only be arrested if there is a criminal case against her, not because of what she is wearing.”

Bangladesh has the world’s fourth-largest Muslim population. Islam is the state religion although only a small but visible minority of the country’s women wears the burqa.

Rangpur police chief Saleh Tanvir denied that police had ordered girls to wear the burqa.