INDONESIA. Padang: The discriminatory practice based on clothing had led to widespread bullying and distress among many women. Dress codes for women and girls in Indonesia discriminate against students, civil servants, and visitors to government offices and should be revoked, Human Rights Watch said in a report.
The new decree clarifies the existing misunderstanding that came into effect as a Christian father confronted the school authorities. The conversation between the father and vice-principal went viral as he streamed it on Facebook Live. Leading to active discussions as it hit more than 830,000 views. Thereby forcing the government authorities to stand up and issued a new decree.
The New Decree
Under the new decree, local governments and school principals were required to revoke any mandatory jilbab regulations. The law has been effective since March 5. As per the reports, sanctions were to be imposed on any local government head or school principal who does not comply as of March 25.
The government should fully enforce a February 2021 decree; that bans abusive dress codes for female students and teachers in Indonesia’s state schools, and take additional legal steps to end discrimination against women and girls.
Indonesia’s Minister for Education and Culture Nadiem Makarim said the choice of wearing religious attire was “an individual’s right… it is not the school’s decision”.
Elianu Hia’s 16-year old daughter was repeatedly reminded of wearing a headscarf by school authorities. She was attending a vocational school in Padang. Her parents had been summoned by the school authorities as she refused to wear the headscarf. In a Facebook video, Hia’s father questioned his religious rights and pointed out the violation of Indonesian law by the public school. The school defended it as a requirement of the school rule book.
“Where are my religious rights?” he asked. “Where are my human rights? This is a public school.”
The parents had to sign in a statement expressing their disapproval to abide by the headscarf rules as dictated by the school. Within the next two days as the video went viral Principal Rusmadi, offered a public apology acknowledging the discomfort caused by the urge on a religiously dictated dress code. He also addressed the unrequited complication on dress code that where enforced on the 23 non-Muslim students.
Indonesia being a democratic country recognises and accepts other religions. But, the past two decades have shown an increasing level of intolerance toward the minority community. The country has a Muslim majority that makes up to 85% of the population. Despite the new law being enforced in 160,000 public schools, many religious schools and the Aceh Province remains exempted from it.
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The latest report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) titled “I Wanted to Run Away: Abusive Dress Codes for Women and Girls in Indonesia,” shares insights on the traumatizing situation of dress discrimination in Indonesia. The 98-page report documents government regulations that require girls and women to wear the jilbab.
“Indonesian regulations and policies have long forced discriminatory dress codes on women and girls in schools and government offices that violate their right to freedom from coercion to adopt a religious belief,” said Elaine Pearson of Human Rights Watch.
“Indonesia’s national, provincial, and local governments should immediately end these discriminatory practices and let women and girls wear what they choose without sacrificing their right to education or work.”
HRW documented many cases where non-Muslim students and teachers were also forced to wear the jilbab. A attire which is usually combined with a long skirt and a long sleeve shirt. In English, the head covering is better known as a hijab.