The historic ruling comes after a dispute between a government official and the director of an elementary school in the district of Kurigram, for which the man later apologised. Arif Ahmed had insulted Sultana Arjuman Huq, director of State elementary school Atmaram Bishweshwar, because she was not wearing a veil. The incident occurred last June, during a public meeting at the headquarters of the Department of Education in upazila (an administrative sub-district of Bangladesh, ed) in which the school is located.So much for the veil being absolutely essential to religious practice.
On June 26, 2009 Bangladeshi newspaper Shamokal reported that the man called the school's principal "beshya" - prostitute in the local language -, for not wearing the veil. Sultana Arjuman Huq was deeply affected by the insult causing her to fall into a depression. The woman finally decided to file a lawsuit for injuries. In January 2010 Arif Ahmed apologized to Sultana Arjuman Huq before High Court judges, who then closed the case. The woman, in fact, decided to forgive him.
On April 8, the judges issued the verdict, explaining the reasons for setting veils for women as non-mandatory. "In Bangladesh - write Syed Mahmud Hossain and Syeda Afsar Jahan - there is no established practice that requires women to cover their heads." In recent years, attempts have emerged, "to force" women to this practice "not only at an individual level but also in public offices." The case in hand, they concluded, is evidence of violations of the rights of women and girls "in public spaces, schools, educational institutions and places of public and private education."
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