A Jakarta public school’s decision to separate stairs for boys and girls has people debating whether the policy is discriminatory or practical for religious purposes.
The stair segregation policy went viral online recently after photos of the two sets of stairs were posted on Twitter. The photos were taken at SMPN (National Middle School) 44 in East Jakarta.
Many netizens were outraged by the school’s policy, including author Jenny Jusuf, who tweeted “heading towards a sharia Indonesia” when sharing the photos, implying that it exemplified a rise in conservatism in Indonesia in recent years (her tweet has since been deleted).
But others accused those of attacking the policy of Islamophobia, quoting an explanation by the school’s headmistress saying they implemented the policy in 2017 because boys often pushed girls on the stairs.
Btw mbak jenny, udah baca alasan knp dipisah? Itu krn keamanan aja. Anak2 suka main dorong2an. Ortu aja mengapresiasi kok, lah si mbak nya ga nyekolahin anak disini, kenapa julid? https://t.co/Az95L4mabm
— Nana (@ronavioleta) June 27, 2019
“Have you read the explanation for the separation Jenny? It’s just for safety. The kids liked to push each other. The parents appreciate the policy, and now why are you, who doesn’t have a child go to this school, bothered?” the user above tweeted in response to Jenny Jusuf.
However, the Jakarta Education Board had an entirely different explanation for the policy. Board Chairman Ratiyono said the segregation was a “creative solution” to help fulfill students fulfill their religious obligations.
It’s generally understood in Islam that wudu becomes invalid if one touches a member of the opposite sex who is not their mahram (unmarriageable kin), even unintentionally.
Ratiyono said the segregation policy does not extend to general interactions between boys and girls at the school.
“Interaction between boys and girls are still free but they must be respectful. Interaction [between them] is a must, but moral and religious norms must be upheld,” he said.
Where do you stand on this stairs segregation issue? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media channels.
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