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08/11/2022 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – On August 10, the largest political party in Indonesia, the Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDIP), held a hearing on mandatory hijab rules, given the recent controversy on repressive dress code laws on Indonesian women and girls.

24 PDIP legislators attended the hearing, as well as Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan’s assistant, the head of the education office, and the six sub-heads of the cities in Jakarta. More than 20 education officials were also in attendance for the two-hour hearing.

Senior Researcher Andreas Harsono from Human Rights Watch (HRW) was given five minutes to testify. He used the HRW report to brief the legislators on discriminatory regulations, suggesting the legislators and the officials survey all of the school uniform regulations of the 2000 state schools in Jakarta. He also briefly shared the psychological impacts on the girls that were bullied constantly for not wearing hijabs.

According to Harsono, Gembong Warsono, the PDIP faction head, mentioned privacy, religious freedom, the best interest of the child, and the personal autonomy of every girl and woman in his speech. He asked the education department to guarantee that there would be “no more bullying” by any state school forcing girls to wear hijabs.

Ima Mahdiah, a PDIP legislator in charge of managing every school bullying, provided victims’ names and incidents. She is frustrated that most school principals and teachers involved in bullying were not punished.

While the officials promised to better train their teachers on bullying prevention and review their school uniform protocols, no one has been punished for their actions so far. For this, Warsono pressed them, so the officials agreed that they would sanction the teachers.

In Muslim-majority Indonesia, while it is a secular state, many schools, government offices, or workplaces create a hostile environment for non-Muslim girls/women who do not wear hijabs.

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