A recent report from Human Rights Watch documents government regulations that force women and girls in Indonesia’s state-run schools and in civil service to wear a hijab—Muslim apparel that covers the head, neck, and chest. Human Rights Watch supports women and girls’ right to “wear what they choose without sacrificing their work or education” and asks that the government do the same. The report has already led to a government order to revoke mandatory hijab policies in schools, but implementation and enforcement at the local level will be critical to ending this form of discrimination.
“I am a devout Muslim, praying five times a day. Islam is a religion of peace. Jilbab cannot be coerced. The most important thing is to love it from the heart,” said a university lecturer in Jakarta, who faced pressure to wear a headscarf in her position as a civil servant.
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 released today. 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.
The 98-page report, “‘I Wanted to Run Away’: Abusive Dress Codes for Women and Girls in Indonesia,” documents government regulations that require girls and women to wear the jilbab, Muslim apparel that covers the head, neck, and chest. Human Rights Watch describes the historical imposition of discriminatory regulations on clothing, and the widespread bullying to wear a jilbab that causes women and girls psychological distress. Girls who don’t comply have been forced to leave school or have withdrawn under pressure, while female civil servants have lost their jobs or resigned to escape constant demands to conform.
“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, Australia director at 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.”