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Jusuf Kalla (Vice President of Republic Indonesia) questions curfew in Banda Aceh

The capital of Aceh province has imposed a partial curfew for women that it says will reduce sexual violence but which critics say is discriminatory, the Associated Press has reported.

Aceh hews to fundamentalism more than other areas in the Muslim-majority nation, and Indonesia’s secular central government granted it the right to implement a version of sharia in 2006 as part of a peace deal to end a separatist war. A religious police and court system have been established and the new restrictions on women are a further strengthening of sharia in the province.

Last year, Aceh lawmakers passed a law that punishes gay sex by public caning and subjects non-Muslims to strict interpretation of sharia. People convicted of gambling, adultery and drinking alcohol already face caning, as do women wearing tight jeans and men who skip Friday prayers.

Ninik Rahayu from the Indonesian Institute for Empowerment of Women and Children said Tuesday that the directive was discriminatory and contrary to Indonesia’s constitution. She said the policy showed the inability of the local government to provide adequate protection for residents. 

Vice President Jusuf Kalla asked the Banda Aceh municipal administration to review the imposition of a curfew on women in the city.

“Of course Aceh has its authority in dealing with its domestic affairs under the Special Autonomy Law. But what is the urgency to impose the curfew?” he said on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of an Indonesian Ulema Association (MUI) meeting in Tegal, Central Java, on Monday.“We cannot just assume that women encounter trouble at night. This assumption should be taken into consideration. Acehnese society has to be smart in managing itself and it should be wise in managing this,” he said.

The curfew, which was issued by Banda Aceh Mayor Illiza Sa’aduddin, took effect on June 6 and aimed to minimize violence against women, limiting the activities of women employed in textile, recreation and entertainment centers to 11:00 p.m.

Associated Press
Published Date: 
Political and Public Participation
Culturally Justified Violence Against Women