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Football bar protests in Dhaka

Dhaka, Jan. 29: Bangladeshi women and civil rights groups have protested against the cancellation of an exhibition football match between women players of India and Bangladesh in the face of protests from Islamic clerics.

The match was scheduled for January 23 in northern Netrokona town. But the authorities cancelled the match after local clerics and groups said Islam does not allow women to play outdoor games like football.

“The cancellation of the match has undermined women’s constitutional equal rights,” said Ain-O-Salish Kendra, a legal rights group, adding that the authorities failed to protect women’s rights.

Sammilita Nari Samaj, a leading women’s rights group, said the government has bowed to the “illogical and unfair demand of the fundamentalists”. In a statement published today, the group said women have every right to play football.

The team from West Bengal could play their matches in Dhaka and Jessore in the west of the country, but returned home on January 22 without playing their last match.

Five days after the footballers left amid protest, a group of 10 Indian women had to return home without taking part in a fashion show in Dhaka. The government said the Indian women arrived in Bangladesh without visas, and their sponsors did not take official permission to bring the Indian models. The show, scheduled to take place at the inauguration of a leather exhibition, was called off as the Indian models could not participate.

JRPR, the sponsor of the fashion show, said it was not aware of the need to take permission from the government to hire foreign artistes.

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