Review of Religious Research

, Volume 60, Issue 4, pp 477–501 | Cite as

Who Wears the Hijab? Predictors of Veiling in Greater Jakarta

  • Ariane UtomoEmail author
  • Anna Reimondos
  • Peter McDonald
  • Iwu Utomo
  • Terence Hull


Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population. In contrast to much of the Middle East, veiling in Indonesia is neither a deeply rooted cultural practice, nor it is universally practised among Muslim women. Just 30 years ago it was rare to see an Indonesian woman wearing a hijab or veil. Today, veiling has become a relatively common practice, particularly among middle-class Muslim women living in urban areas. Although statistics on the prevalence of veiling are scant, the fact of growing use of headscarves is widely accepted in the literature. This paper examines sociodemographic correlates of veiling among young women in the capital region of Indonesia. We analyse a representative sample of 1443 Muslim women aged 20–34 in Greater Jakarta in 2010. About 26% of the women surveyed wore the veil. We found a moderately strong association between veiling and other measures of religiosity, including self-reported subjective religiosity and frequency of reading religious texts. Our multivariate analysis suggests a positive association between educational attainment and the likelihood of veiling among young Muslim women. In discussing these findings, we draw upon the qualitative component of our study and the literature on Islam, gender, and modernity in Indonesia. The paper highlights the difficulty encountered examining the practice of veiling as a binary choice, and as a measure of religiosity.


Indonesia Veiling Hijab Islam Education Women 



The Greater Jakarta Transition to Adulthood Study is funded by the Australian Research Council (DP0881776 and DP130104445), and the Ford Foundation.


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© Religious Research Association, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of GeographyThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.School of DemographyThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.Melbourne School of Population and Global HealthThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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