Home News Mandatory wearing of hijab in Indonesian schools results in discrimination

Mandatory wearing of hijab in Indonesian schools results in discrimination

An Education official admitted that some teachers have been imposing "discriminative acts”

The mandatory wearing of hijab in Indonesia’s public schools has resulted in rising incidents of “discriminatory acts” against non-Muslim students in recent weeks.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle in the regional council in Jakarta said it has received complaints lodged by parents for cases of discrimination over the mandatory wearing of the veil.

A junior high school student in South Jakarta, for instance, was forced by teachers to wear the hijab in front of other students, resulting in an emotional problem.

“[She] has been emotionally cornered and bullied,” said her foster mother, adding that the girl suffered emotionally because of the repeated “bullying” of the teachers.

Jakarta’s Education chief, Nahdiana, said, however, that it is “clearly stated that there were no written statement over mandatory school uniforms.”

“We are convinced that the mandatory wearing (of the hijab) does not exist. But we also acknowledge that some teachers possibly and potentially impose such discriminative acts,” said the official.

Nahdiana warned those who are found to discriminate students that administrative sanctions will be imposed.

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“I would guarantee that both student and her parents should be protected,” she said, referring to the case of the junior high school student.

In July, Human Rights Watch decried what it described as “discriminatory, rights-abusing” decrees that violate the rights of women and girls in Indonesia.

The group noted that authorities have issued “discriminatory decrees” that, in the past two decades, compel millions of girls and women to wear female headdresses, long skirts, and long sleeve shirts.

“These decrees do real harm,” said said Elaine Pearson, acting Asia director at Human Rights Watch in a statement.

The human rights group said most of Indonesia’s provinces and dozens of cities and regencies impose the discriminatory and abusive dress codes on women and girls.

It said that the “harmful impact” of the regulations is evident in the personal accounts of Indonesian women, including schoolgirls, teachers, and doctors.

Human Rights Watch urged the government to invalidate the local decrees, more than 60 of which are in effect across the country.

The group, however, noted that the central government has no legal authority to revoke local laws, such as the 2004 dress code in Aceh province that was inspired by Sharia, or Islamic law.

Human Rights Watch said it interviewed more than 100 women who have experienced abuse and often long-term consequences for refusing to wear the headdress.

The 2021 report documented widespread bullying of girls and women to force them to wear the hijab, “as well as the deep psychological distress the bullying can cause.”

In at least 24 of the country’s 34 provinces, girls who did not comply were forced to leave school or withdrew under pressure, while some female civil servants, including teachers, doctors, school principals, and university lecturers, lost their jobs or felt compelled to resign.

Nearly 150,000 schools in Indonesia’s 24 Muslim-majority provinces currently enforce mandatory hijab rules, based on both local and national regulations. In some conservative Muslim areas such as Aceh and West Sumatra, even non-Muslim girls have also been forced to wear the headdress.

More than 800 public figures have signed a petition that condemned the decision and asked the Judiciary Commission to review it, saying the regulation was unconstitutional and discriminatory.

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