Bangladesh hospital bans burqa to prevent theft

Last Updated: Mon, Mar 22, 2010 08:00 hrs

Bangladesh's largest state-run hospital has banned staff from wearing full-face burqas after an increase in thefts of mobile phones and wallets from wards, a hospital chief said Monday.

Female staff have been ordered to wear standard uniforms, which do not cover either the hair or face, while on duty at the Bangabandhu Medical University Hospital in Dhaka, senior administrator Abdul Majid Bhuiyan told AFP.

"We decided to enforce our uniform regulations after discovering instances of stealing by veiled staff," he said, adding some burqa-wearing staff had also been secretly sending unqualified "proxy workers" to cover shifts for them.

Only a small number of women working at the hospital wear the full-face veil, he said.

"Doctors have also said burqa-clad women who travel to work on crowded public buses then do not change into regulation uniform could carry diseases into the hospital," he said.

Bangladesh has the world's fourth-largest Muslim population. Islam is the state religion although only a small minority of women wear the burqa.