to streets to condemn sharia, porn bill
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Women's groups took to the nation's streets Wednesday
to voice their opposition to sharia law and the controversial
pornography bill, both which they said unfairly criminalized women's
sexuality and behavior.
Demonstrations across the country to mark
International Women's Day also called on the government to reduce
basic commodity prices and do more to stop crimes where women were
victimized, like human trafficking and domestic violence.
In Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, around 1,000 women
protested against what they said was the unfair implementation of
sharia law in the province.
Activists told The Associated Press the "sharia
police" -- religious vigilantes enforcing the rules -- were detaining
women who did not wear traditional Muslim headscarves or were found
walking outside at night unaccompanied by a man.
The women said the laws were unfair as they curtailed
women's freedoms but not men's.
About 200 women rallied in Jakarta to voice their
opposition to the pornography bill, which is currently before the
House of Representatives. The bill if passed would encroach on basic
freedoms, including the right to personal expression, they said.
Marching from the State Palace to the House of
Representatives building, the women said the controversial bill was a
move back to the bad old days where women had little autonomy.
The bill bans people from kissing in public and fines
or jails women for exposing "sensitive" body parts, which could
include their hair, shoulders and legs.
Artists could also be prosecuted for including nudity
in their works.
The women said the bill targeted women without
examining the core issues in pornography that mostly involved men,
capitalism and the patriarchal system.
The bill has been supported by Muslim organizations
throughout the country. Muslims account for an estimated 92 percent of
country's total population.
Supermodel Olga Lidya, who joined the protest, said
the bill blamed women for being the cause of moral degradation.
"The government should instead focus on improving
education," she said. Pornography definitions had already been
incorporated into the existing Criminal Code but were never properly
enforced, she said.
The protesters called for the government to focus more
of its attention on cases of human trafficking and domestic violence,
two issues they said were being overlooked by the administration.
In Surabaya and Yogyakarta, demonstrators also called
on the government to decrease fuel prices and abandon a proposed
electricity price hike. High prices for basic commodities ended up
hurting women and children the most, they said.
Women also needed better working conditions, including
regulations for more maternity leave, they said. (10)