Dhaka court says female students should not have to wear burqas

Dhaka, Bangladesh - A Bangladeshi court Sunday asked the government to ensure that women are not forced to wear headscarves or veils in public offices and schools, court officials said.

The country's High Court issued the order following reports that officials in a female college in northern Bangladesh were forbidding students from attending class unless they wear a burqa - the full-length cloak worn by some Muslim women.

Two lawyers, who brought the matter to the court's attention, said the college's principal had also imposed the traditional attire on female students attending the school's cultural activities and sports.

The court has asked the college to explain the matter. It also wants the government to clarify that such impositions are illegal.

Wearing the veil or burqa is not mandatory in predominantly-Muslim Bangladesh, but it is not rare for women to be forced to wear headscarves.