The National Police has given the green light for policewomen to wear the Islamic headdress while working amid requests by female officers.
“It is a right. I have conveyed this to my subordinates. If a policewoman wants to cover her head, she can do so, but we do not have a special budget for the garment. If they want to wear headscarves they have to buy them themselves,” National Police chief Cmr. Gen. Sutarman said.
Sutarman said some policewomen in Aceh province have started using headscarves while on duty.
The National Police issued regulations regarding the police dress code in 2005, which prohibited policewomen from wearing headscarves while on duty.
However, Sr. Cmr. Agus Rianto, a spokesman for the National Police, denied there was a specific article in the regulation that expressly prohibited the garment.
Agus said the National Police’s dress code regulations applied only to orderly conduct and that policewomen in Aceh province were exempt because the province operates partially under Sharia law.
The prohibition prompted protests from several Islamic organizations. Previously 12 Islamic organizations united under the Foundation of Islamic Organization Brotherhood demanded the national police immediately issue a new regulation permitting policewomen to cover their heads while on duty.
Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) also protested the regulation with the vice secretary general, Tengku Zulkarnain, saying policewomen should be given the right to wear a headscarf.
“The prohibition has no merit,” he said, adding that traffic police officers should also be allowed to wear the headscarf.
Tengku said the National Police should allocate a special budget and make a special design for the hijab uniform.
“There are many policewomen who would prefer wearing the hijab regularly, even when working,” he said.
Tengku noted that despite the National Police chief’s new policies, MUI continued to receive reports from policewomen who were not allowed to enter a training class because they were wearing the hijab.
Tengku said such restrictions constituted a violation of the constitution. He said permitting the officers to wear headscarves would help the National Police fix its tainted image after being rocked by several scandals, including sex scandals and indecent pictures of its officers which have spread widely.
In Malang, East Java, female officers have been allowed to wear headscarves on Fridays after the police received a number of requests.
Malang Police chief Adj. Snr. Cmr. Adi Deriyan Jayamarta said aside from Aceh, there are no clear rules regulating the wearing of head scarves by policewomen while on duty.
He said that he permitted the women to wear scarves on Fridays as many policewomen wore them after hours on a regular basis.