(CTN News) – A school located on Indonesia‘s main island has undertaken a controversial action, as the headmaster revealed on Monday. More than a dozen girls had their heads partially shaved due to allegations of incorrect wearing of Islamic hijab headscarves.
In parts of the conservative archipelago nation with a population of 270 million, both Muslim and non-Muslim girls have reportedly been compelled to wear hijabs for an extended period, despite the country’s move in 2021 to prohibit schools from enforcing such obligatory dress codes.
Last Wednesday, an undisclosed teacher at the state-owned junior high school SMPN 1 in Lamongan, situated in East Java, carried out the partial shaving of the hair of 14 Muslim girls.
The headmaster, known as Harto, expressed that the school has issued an apology and taken the step to suspend the teacher responsible.
Harto explained that the schoolgirls had not worn inner caps beneath their headscarves, which resulted in their hairlines being visible.
He emphasized that there is no mandatory requirement for female students to wear hijabs; however, they had been advised to wear inner caps to maintain a tidy appearance.
He informed AFP, “We expressed our apologies to the parents, and through a mediation process, we have reached a mutual understanding.”
Response and Calls for Accountability Following Disturbing Incident at Lamongan School
The school has committed to providing psychological support to the affected students, according to the headmaster.
Various human rights organizations have demanded the dismissal of the teacher involved.
Andreas Harsono, the Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, remarked, “The incident in Lamongan is arguably one of the most alarming cases ever witnessed in Indonesia.”
He asserted in a statement, “No teacher who has taken such actions against students has ever faced consequences.
The education office in Lamongan should take action against this teacher, at the very least by reassigning her from the school and arranging for psychologists to assist the victims in coping with the emotional aftermath.”
Challenges Surrounding Hijab Dress Code Compliance and Religious Intolerance in Indonesia
In a report published in 2021, the organization highlighted that certain schoolgirls have had their hijabs forcibly cut off if not worn correctly. Additionally, some students have faced penalties or even expulsion for not complying with the hijab dress code.
Indonesia officially acknowledges six major religions, but concerns have been raised about the rising religious intolerance in this predominantly Muslim nation.
The hijab issue gained significant attention in 2021 following an incident where a Christian student in West Sumatra was coerced to wear a hijab. Officials described this case as just the “tip of the iceberg.”