Headscarf Ban

Feb 13th, 2007, in News, by

A hospital in Bandung that banned nurses from wearing headscarves is confronted by a radical Muslim group.

The Kebon Jati, or Kebonjati, hospital in Bandung, West Java, appears to have been forced to abandon its policy of forbidding female nurses from wearing the jilbab, or Muslim headscarf, due to pressure from the Muslim hardline group, Islam Defenders’ Front (Front Pembela Islam (FPI)).

Nurse wearing jilbab
Nurse wearing jilbab.

On the 12th representatives from the Islam Defenders’ Front met with the hospital’s vice-director, Yunandi, and extracted a written statement that the hospital would allow female staff to dress in muslimah attire. Yunandi however claimed that the hand-written letter which he and two other hospital managers had signed merely represented a personal declaration from him:

I don’t know how the patients, other nurses, the directors, and the hospital authority will regard this. It’s up to them (the nurses) if they want to wear the headscarf tomorrow or later today.
(Saya tidak tahu bagaimana tanggapan dari pasien, perawat lain, direktur maupun yayasan. Terserah kalau mereka (perawat) mau mengenakan jilbab besok atau nanti siang.)

A representative from the nurses’ association, Sumiyati, said the agreement between Yunandi and the FPI was enough for now and that she hoped the hospital’s more senior staff would make the policy allowing the jilbab formal. She said:

The point is we are no longer afraid of wearing Muslim dress.
(Intinya kami tidak takut lagi memakai kerudung (jilbab))

Sumiyati said that of the 300 nurses at the hospital 70% were Muslim and most of them normally wore the jilbab. detik

The head of the FPI in Bandung, Asep Syarifudin, said his organisation had received a complaint from the hospital’s staff association regarding the jilbab ban. Forbidding the wearing of the headscarf was a violation of human rights, he said, and the FPI would not leave the grounds of the hospital until they were satisfied that the hospital management would change the policy. He said:

Policewomen in Aceh wear headscarves, while in India we frequently see policemen who wear turbans on their heads.

Nining Sariningsih, a 26 year old nurse, said that most of the nurses wore jilbabs in their daily life and it wasn’t fair that they had to take them off at work.

There really is a written rule about this.
(Tapi memang tidak ada peraturan tertulis mengenai hal ini.)

She said the nurses’ association had repeatedly, since 2004, asked that the policy be changed, with no success, and so they asked the FPI for help. She said that besides being in accordance with Islamic law, the wearing of headscarves, as well as trousers and a long-sleeved shirt, made her feel more secure and comfortable. Nining argued that when she had to bathe a baby or lift a patient onto a bed, the short uniforms were not practical.

Our legs are plainly visible; it makes us ashamed. Never mind that we are forced to go up and down the stairs.

The hospital’s reason for not allowing the jilbab, she said, was that it was an institution that did not represent any particular religion:

They even said that if Muslims were allowed to wear Muslim dress then Buddhist staff would later ask to wear Buddhist robes while working.
(Bahkan mereka (direksi) bilang, kalau yang muslim memakai kerudung nanti yang Budha juga akan meminta memakai kain saja (saat bertugas))

Yunandi defended the hospital’s position saying that staff knew from the beginning what the policy was and it was their choice to work at the hospital. detik He is quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying:

Kebonjati Hospital is a general hospital which does not represent a certain religion. We never imposed a regulation preventing the use of headscarves, but we have our own regulation on the use of uniforms, with clear-cut pictures. It’s similar to those used by the police, the military. They have their own uniforms, don’t they?

Yunandi said the regulation on the use of nursing uniforms had been in force since 1979. He said all employees were told they must wear white skirts and blouses with nurse caps.

Sri Umiyatun (47), one of the nurses who led the protests against the hospital, on 17th May 2007 received a special award from the Justice Party, Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS), for struggling for the rights of women to wear headscarfs, the PKS Award. After receiving the honour she said she hoped all Muslim women would obey the dictates of God and, for example, cover their hair. okezone

30 Comments on “Headscarf Ban”

  1. Ihaknt says:

    Cool, I hope they will also ask the sexy nurses to wear nice little outfit too. I am sure it will make the sponge bath sessions a bit more memorable.

  2. 1ndra says:

    That’s what called repeated order.
    Many people pretend to be sick and need to be ‘treated’ well. 🙂

  3. sgn says:

    I was about two weeks in that hospital before.
    At that time no-one wearing “jilbab”, and I met quite number of nice nurses there.

    Wonder if I can find the same now. Are they taking care of non-muhrim?

  4. Dimp says:

    I don’t see any problem with nurses wearing jilbab, if they are happy to wear jilbab then let them. I think people will be glad if they are treated by happy nurses rather than nurses who are not comfortable in their outfit.

  5. Hassan says:

    sgn: I’m sure they won’t change their hospitality just because they wear jilbab. 🙂

  6. Tomaculum says:

    That is the problem in our world: we frequently judge others according to their clothes.
    I know many Muslima with jilbab, who are tolerant. And I know many less dressed women with correct moral.
    There are stupid ones on both sides.

  7. Andrew says:

    I’m with Dimp — there’s nothing wrong with nurse wearing jilbab. What matters is their qualifications and demeanor.

  8. Mohammed Khafi says:

    There is always the question of cross infection from contaminated clothing which could be an issue, can we be sure that they have sufficient clean Jilbab so that they change them when they change their surgical or theater uniforms? This could be many times a day in ICU in a busy city hospital.


  9. Hassan says:

    Ah, you’re back. Welcome back, Brother Khafi! 🙂

  10. Julita says:

    Well, usually nurses in the hospital have their own head covering, this they did not inform us. Yes, it would be a little bit weird to put a jilbab on a nurses head covering. So either tolerate accept Jihab as a nurse covering or make the covering as that of a nurse. Whew!

  11. Tomaculum says:

    M. Khafi,
    as one working in health and hygienic field I don’t see any problem of working in a hospital wearing a headscarf. But they have to:
    1. change and wash the headscarf everyday
    2. put on a new scarf every time they’re going home.
    So they need at least 2 scarfs everyday and the “hospital scarf” should be cleaned or washed in the hospital laundry.
    I think the problem is the long arms of the blouses. With it, they can not do the hygienical hand washing effectively and they endanger the patients, their colleagues and their selves with their families. It is not suitable to the modern hygienic demands.
    Nowadays we are threatened by bacteria which are resistent against many antibiotics and the most frequent way to carry those germs are per hand in terms of smear infection.

  12. 1ndra says:

    True Tom, not only the jilbab need to be washed, but their nurse uniform as well. They’re the same as normal uniform and clothing.
    Don’t misinterpret between jilbab with women’s worship clothes.

    About jilbab, its a good move for hygine, just imagine you got a patient with open wounds and you have clean the wounds but you have so much dandruff. 😀
    Thats why in surgical room, everyone wear headscarf.

  13. Andrew says:

    Definitely, from a hygiene perspective, a nurse with a clean jilbab (or other form of headcover) is better than without. Which is why you see people with headcover in (professional) food industry or even semiconductor manufacturing facility.

  14. Madesh says:

    When someone is ready to join whatever organisation (whether it is an army, a navy or a hospital and so on), he oblige to follow the rules including the uniform in use. If someone gets privilege to wear different costumes then there will be no uniform.
    Brits rule the waves, Indonesian waives the rules.

  15. Ihaknt says:

    The motto is: rules are made to be broken. When one gets away the other follow, and normally a step further.

  16. sgn says:

    I’m sure they won’t change their hospitality just because they wear jilbab.

    Not sure…. Because I stayed there more than 10 years ago.

  17. pj_bali says:

    Personally I don’t care if they wear the jilbab or not. Pehaps they should have read their contract of employment before they started to work. Its not like they are being forced to work at that hospital. If they had initially agreed not to wear the jilbab (as per their conditions of employment) then why suddenly make the demand now? And why involve the FPI? Inviting a group of professional thugs to force people to sign meaningless statements is hardly the way the improve relations between the hospital management and the nurses association. Whats the fpi going to do? Report the hospital board to the police for apostasy? Burn the houses of the board? Throw rocks at their homes? As long as Indonesia allows itself to be ruled by thugs then we can expect more this sort of nonsense.

  18. Tomaculum says:

    There are many more important problems in the health field/service in Indonesia ……

  19. Madesh says:

    I am just wondering who actually the ruler in Indonesia is.
    SBY or Habib Rizieq or Abu Bakar Basyir?

  20. Tomaculum says:

    Or J. Kalla? 🙂

  21. Madesh says:

    MJ Kalla? I don’t think so as he doesn’t have any credibility for that.

    Finally I found out that the Indonesia’s ruler has been born yet.

    If a jilbab is tolerable then the next step should be a burqa of course.
    We can all see their movement step by step in order to proclaim an Islamic country with its shariah law.
    I don’t mind if all of you like it.

  22. Dimp says:

    I agree with Tomaculum, I think we should be looking at other problems rather than arguing about headscarf. We have a bigger problem regarding our health services in the country. We should be looking for a solution that will actually benefits the country, not to increase tensions between the religions.

  23. Ihaknt says:

    Yeah, good luck with that…I have so much faith in our government. I love them. No other government is better and fairer than ours.

  24. Dimp says:

    Thanks for the sarcasm. That really helps.

    BTW, Indonesian government is not that bad, I can at least named 3 other countries that I will not even consider going.

  25. Mohammed Khafi says:

    I don’t see any problem with the Jilbab, as long as it meets cleanliness standards and does not impede the work of the nurses, after all Catholic Nuns who work as nurses in their own hospitals wear their headcovers don’t they?

    Of course as long as it is the choice of the nurses themselves to do it and it is not being forced on them!

    I personally like to see the nurses wearing Jilbab, but then again I do have a weakness for women in uniform! 😉

  26. Dimp says:

    I don’t see headscarfs as something that needs to be addressed in the medical industry, as I said before I don’t mind if nurses are wearing headscarfs. Unless of course if they are wearing the full niqab / burqa (not sure which one is which), which will probably hinder their tasks as nurses.

  27. Ihaknt says:

    Just jilbab and nothing else…then the patients won’t be getting better. They’re always sick.

  28. Katarina says:

    Hi I really love to see that women in other countries are allowed to wear hijab during job at hospital. I wish it would be so here in my country. Do any here know how to contact this hospital where this is ok, because want to have their uniform program so maybe could work for making this possible here too.

    Love katarina.

  29. Samuel Barns says:

    It would seem like a comprimise could be made by hospitals. Surely a uniform that meets the guidelines for hospital workers and one that meets the spiritual needs of the individual can become part of the optional hospital uniform selection.

  30. tikaperwita says:

    Katarina: where are u from? where do u live??

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