Police disperse Bangladesh protests against women's rights

Police in Bangladesh clash with protesters

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Police in Bangladesh broke up angry protesters blocking a main highway in the capital Dhaka, over a new law giving women equal property rights.

Dozens were arrested and injured as police used tear gas and batons.

Schools, businesses and offices across the country remained closed in a nationwide strike enforced by a group of Islamic parties.

Bangladesh has a secular legal system, but in matters relating to inheritance it follows Sharia law.

Under Bangladeshi law a woman normally inherits half as much as her brother. But under the new rules, every child would inherit an equal amount.

Protesters blocked a key road linking the capital, Dhaka, with the main port of Chittagong. Officials say around 100 protesters have been taken into custody.

"The protesters blocked the highway for sometime. The road has been cleared now," Mahbubur Rahman, a senior police officer told the BBC.

But Fazlul Huq Amini, who heads the Islamic Law Implementation Committee, said the strike was successful and "people spontaneously supported the protest".

Protesters, organised by the Islami Oiko Jote (Unity group), argue that the new proposals go against the Koran.

The government says its new policy does not violate Islam and aims to give women greater rights in employment, inheritance and education.

Our correspondent says the proposed law has been welcomed by women's rights groups. They say the policy has the support of the majority of people in the country.

Although the hardline religious parties do not have major political influence, their campaign to portray some of the government's policies as anti-Islamic could have an impact on rural areas of the country in the long term, according to our correspondent.

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