200 hurt in Dhaka as Islamist bodies protest law for women

April 12th, 2008 - 2:30 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, April 12 (IANS) Bangladesh’s top judge and an Indian jurist have come out strongly in support of a move to formulate a law to ensure equal rights for women even as Islamist bodies termed it “anti-Quran” and clashed on the streets, leaving 200 wounded. “Women are about a half of the total population. Hence, their demand for equal rights is logical. Then why are various incidents taking place now on the issue?” Chief Justice M. Ruhul Amin remarked at a seminar Friday as protests entered the second day.

He said: “The demand for equal rights for women in every aspect of life is logical.”

Ombudsman of West Bengal, Samaresh Banerjee, who addressed the event as the guest of honour, said judicial systems in South Asian countries are not well equipped to deal with crimes on gender issues.

“Gender justice is a new jurisprudence all over the world,” Banerjee said, underscoring the need for initiating judicial education on gender issues in the eight member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc).

Meanwhile, the police battled protestors in Dhaka and the Chittagong port city, the United News of Bangladesh (UNB) news agency said.

Bangladesh’s Ismalist bodies that have forged a front are protesting the recently announced national women development policy.

The marchers outside Dhaka’s Baitul Mukarram mosque chanted slogans demanding the resignation of Women and Children Affairs Adviser Rasheda K. Chowdhury and of the interim government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed.

Three members of Islamist outfits beat up a policeman after the cop fell behind his retreating colleagues who chased the agitators near the mosque, The Daily Star newspaper said Saturday.

The police used batons and fired rubber bullets and tear gas to break up the demonstrations. At least 52 policemen and five journalists were injured.

Hundreds of people who had gone to the mosque for Friday prayers were trapped inside.

Chief Adviser Ahmed, performing the prime ministerial functions, announced the National Women Development Policy-2008 on March 8, triggering protests from Islamist organisations.

Since then, some radical groups have been claiming that the policy gives equal inheritance rights to men and women, while the government maintained there is no such provision.

In efforts to scotch the discontent, four advisers of the caretaker government met Islamist leaders on March 27 and formed a review committee headed by the acting Khatib of Baitul Mukarram Mosque.

A report by the committee is due by April 16.

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