Human rights workers, women leaders and constitution experts have said that the comment made by Shah Ahmed Shafi of Hefazat-e-Islam, asking parents to refrain from sending their daughters to school and college is incongruous with our constitution.
Denigrating the right to education is tantamount to belittling the nation, they said.
Saying that such comments may jeopardise women’s education, they called for the state to take initiatives as per law to stop the dissemination of such damaging observations.
On the other hand, Hefazat leaders claim that the statement of Shafi was misrepresented in the media. However, the newly appointed Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury Naofel said that the comment is Hefazat chief’s personal view.
On Friday (Jan 11) while addressing a rally in Hathazari in Chattogram, Hefazat chief Shah Ahmed Shafi said, “Do not allow your daughters to study beyond class four or five; if they study beyond this then men will grab them.”
Reportedly, after saying this, he also asked the people present to be bound by an oath to do what he suggested.
However, Hefazat’s Organizational Secretary Mainuddin Ruhi says, “Our leader did not call to limit women’s education, instead, he said that after primary education, there should be separate academic institutions for girls.”
He said that in co-educational institutes, women become victims of eve teasing and persecution.
Our leader also said that there is no bar against women working if she maintains hijab, added Ruhi.
Commenting on Shafi’s statement, Barrister M Amir Ul Islam told Bangla Tribune, “With respect towards Allama Shafi, education is a basic right for both men and women and there cannot be any discrimination.”
President of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad Ayesha Khanam told Bangla Tribune, “Such comments are driven by malicious intent and can undermine the work we have done to prevent child marriage, sexual harassment and promote gender equality.”
“Such comments will put women’s education in severe jeopardy in rural areas.”
However, Publicity Secretary of Hefazat’s Chattogram unit Moulana ANM Ahmed Ullah said, “The main aim of hujur’s (Allama Shafi) speech was to highlight the persecution perpetrated against women and ensure separate education for them.”