Indonesia: mayor orders curfew for women to tackle sexual harrasment

  • AP, Banda Aceh, Indonesia
  • Updated: Jun 09, 2015 18:28 IST

The capital of Indonesia's devout Aceh province has imposed a partial curfew for women that it says will reduce sexual violence but which critics claim is discriminatory.

Banda Aceh Mayor Illiza Sa'aduddin Djamal ordered venues including restaurants, sport centers, Internet cafes and tourist attractions to not serve women after 11pm unless they are accompanied by their husbands or other male family members.

The directive, dated June 4, also prohibits women from working in such establishments after 11pm.

Aceh tends to adhere to more fundamentalist social practises than other areas in the Muslim-majority nation, after Indonesia's secular central government granted it the right to implement a version of Shariah law in 2006 as part of a peace deal aimed at ending 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 a strict interpretation of Sharia law. People convicted of gambling, adultery and drinking alcohol already face caning, as do women wearing tight jeans and people who skip Friday prayers.

Ninik Rahayu from the Indonesian Institute for Empowerment of Women and Children said on Tuesday that the directive is discriminatory and contrary to Indonesia's constitution.

She said the policy shows the inability of the local government to provide adequate protection for residents.

The directive also prohibits children from being at public places unaccompanied after 10pm

Djamal said employing women until late at night constitutes exploitation and makes them vulnerable to sexual harassment.

"We have studied the matter thoroughly and this is in line with the labour laws," Djamal said. "Our aim is to protect women employees, especially those working at entertainment spots."

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