Sat, 25 Mar 2000

Doctor fights 'jilbab' rule

BOGOR (JP): A woman doctor has balked at repeated warnings from Karya Bakti Hospital to remove her Islamic headdress or be fired.

"The hospital administration has always tried to make me remove my headdress since I started wearing it in June 1999," Dr. Yunida Ratnawati said after a hearing with Bogor City Council on Thursday.

"I've received letters of notification from the hospital administration, saying that I violated the hospital's regulations and brought its name into disrepute."

Islamic doctrine dictates that Muslim women must keep their bodies covered except for their hands and feet. However, there are different interpretations on whether women are required to wear the headdress, locally known as jilbab.

Yunida acknowledged that her headdress violated article 32 of the hospital's regulations on the dress code for all of its employees.

"The article has scared many other female employees, who remove their headdresses during working hours," she said.

"I told the hospital director that it's against higher regulations and also violating my basic rights. Instead, he threatened to dismiss me every time I used the argument."

Yunida said she was the only employee rejecting the hospital's requirement. She added she was ready to resign because her husband had given his permission.

"But that's not the point. The management has been discriminative and against the reform spirit," she said.

Hospital director Mismasdi Mihadi declined to comment after the hearing, stating tersely "there's no problem at all".

The hospital's lawyer, Ostriana Osli, also refused to comment. (24/nvn)