Women to be banned from straddling bikes

2013-01-07 16:08

Lhokseumawe — Authorities in Indonesia's Aceh province are pressing ahead with a proposed Islamic law that would ban female passengers from straddling motorbikes despite reported opposition from the central government.

Aceh introduced a version of Shariah, or Islamic law, in 2009, after it gained autonomy from the government in a 2005 peace deal to end a long-running separatist war there.

The Aceh laws regulate women's dress and public morality, require shops and other places to close at prayer time, and are enforced by a special unit. Punishments can include public caning.

On Monday, authorities in northern Aceh distributed a notice to government offices and villages informing residents of the proposed law, which would apply to adolescent girls and women. It states that women are not allowed to straddle motorbikes unless it's an "emergency", and are not allowed to hold onto the driver.

Suaidi Yahya, mayor of the Aceh city of Lhokseumawe, said a ban was needed because the "curves of a woman's body" are more visible when straddling a motorbike than when sitting sideways with legs dangling.

"Muslim women are not allowed to show their curves, it's against Islamic teachings," he said, declining to give details of what the punishment would be for violators.

Last week, Home Ministry officials told local media they would try to block the law because it was discriminatory.

'Islam is beautiful'

While rare in the West, riding sidesaddle on a motorbike is common in much of Southeast Asia, particularly for women wearing skirts. There appear to have been no studies on which is safer, straddling or riding sidesaddle, though many women say they feel more secure and comfortable straddling.

Nurjanah Ismail, a lecturer on gender issues at the Ar Raniry Islamic Institute in Aceh's capital, Banda Aceh, criticised the proposed law.

"There is no need to question this practice, let alone regulate it, because people do it for safety," she said. "Women sitting in that way cannot be considered bad or in violation of Shariah. Islam is beautiful, so do not make it difficult."

It is unclear how popular the Shariah provisions are with locals in Aceh, which while devout by Indonesian standards is a far cry from parts of Pakistan or the Middle East.

Enforcement of laws is patchy and mostly targets young men and women. Caning, when applied, typically is aimed at causing humiliation rather than pain.

Since 2005, many other regions in Indonesia have issued Shariah-inspired bylaws that ban such things as alcohol or tight clothing, alarming rights activists and others who value the country's secular heritage.

The government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which relies on the support of Muslim political parties, has not spoken out against the laws, much less challenge them.

  • karl.vanrooyen - 2013-01-07 16:15

    Backward mentality

      fidelity.mcoshi - 2013-01-07 19:16

      The problem I have with organised religion is that it tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people’s business. It would have been nice if their main message could be a focus on love and how to achieve inner peace and happiness, rather than trying to exert their power and control, and that goes for all organised religions!

  • robin.stobbs.9 - 2013-01-07 16:17

    Shariah Law is the equivalent of 'Police State'! Keep at it Islam - keep unwinding the clock.

  • paulus.deboer.3 - 2013-01-07 16:18

    So they can open their legs when the husband wants his way, otherwise it must be closed? They can't even hold onto the driver? Ah well.. at least when they fall of it will be graceful without showing any curves. Bunch of loonies!

  • rollingstone.kanyane - 2013-01-07 16:23

    And islam is beautiful

  • repline.rasbanda - 2013-01-07 16:24

    "The government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which relies on the support of Muslim political parties, has not spoken out against the laws, much less challenge them." For some reason I couldn't help but think of JZ and gang when I read this.

  • clive.erasmus - 2013-01-07 16:31

    I hope one day the wheels turn and the women rule that crap

  • james.f.blyth - 2013-01-07 16:32

    This kind of attitude is proof that the Muslim men are base creatures that have no control over their own urges and impulses. So if they cant see a woman's natural god-given beauty then they wont be compelled to rape them. All this apparent in the violent gang rape on a bus in India. A religion that makes women second class citizens is not something I want anything to do with.

      des.maartens - 2013-01-07 19:52

      I hear what you are saying but bear in mind that most of India's population are Hindus, not Muslims who believe in Mahommed the Prophet of Islam.

  • fidelity.mcoshi - 2013-01-07 16:32

    European women were a thousand years ago also banned from straddling horses or wearing trousers. The attempts to legislate "morality" is extremely annoying to me.

  • dianne.neyt - 2013-01-07 16:40

    Speechless......lips are sealed ;o) Pun intended! - 2013-01-07 23:16

      Ridiculous reasoning.

  • May - 2013-01-07 17:02

    Good @@@ these people are pathetic!!!

  • merry.martin.944 - 2013-01-07 17:03

    What is wrong with the men in these countries? Why are the men not standing up to this type of nonsense? Are there really no men in these countries that are prepared to fight for the rights of their wives, mothers, daughters?

      toby.christian.37 - 2013-01-24 05:16

      Yes, this bill was challenged and condemned from all around Indonesia, men and women. The mayor who passed it into regional regulation had become a laughingstock and was recently publicly humiliated in a televised talk show, the host was female btw. In Aceh itself, the regulation was opposed by arguably all women who actually ride motorbike. In any case, this regulation is stupid not only because of what is stipulated, but also because it doesn't specify in detail the enforcement and punishment for breaking said rule.

  • Grant Henry - 2013-01-07 17:25

    For F@@k sake these muslims are up to sh-t again. Don't know who's been to Dubai, but women cant show any skin and they have to be covered up when outside, that's the Law. But they changed the law so that in some areas they can have strip clubs to benefit the men. All their religion is, is an excuse to either cause war or use it to oppress their women.

  • qhuggett - 2013-01-07 17:57

    Religion for the big win

  • Sherry Skibbe - 2013-01-07 17:58

    This is opression of women is offensive ! Jesus died to give us humans freedom both man and woman and I am a woman of this new covenant ! A woman was not taken from the foot of a man but from his side ! We are created equal ! If their eyes offend them rather they pluck it out ! Too many women worldwide have suffered enough bad treatment by those who think they are a man because of anatomy ! Any man who is a real man respects a woman ! Respect uplifts woman but opression undermines a woman's worth and we are created equal ! Men treat women right ! God made us to help you not to be a doormat ! The Bible says a man should love his wife so much he would lay down his life for her not her for you !! So honour us and we respect you but dishonour breeds dishonour ! If a man honours his wife he honours himself !

      proud.whiteskin - 2013-01-07 19:27

      Jesus did not come for everyone. We try and apply the bible on all people but God's covenant was only made with a certain people and not everyone on earth was included.

      bushmagush - 2013-01-08 09:58

      You are responding to religious control with religious control. I agree with what you are saying - woman are equal and should be treated so - but do not be so quick to mock other religions just because they are different from yours. Right, wrong, nobody will ever agree, but just remember that as aggressively and dearly as you hold your views, so do those on the opposing side.

      brendon.nel.7 - 2013-01-08 13:19

      Ha ha ha ha is this the same religion that oppressed women for the last thousand odd years?

  • crismoyo - 2013-01-07 18:00


  • Sthere - 2013-01-07 18:01

    I love Islam! As for their laws.....not so much.

  • Peter Zylstra - 2013-01-07 18:17

    Islamic lunatics at it again! No wonder their prophet muhammed is sometimes laughed at!

  • kseyffert - 2013-01-07 18:18

    And this is what happens when radicals get hold of something. They mess it up for everyone. The worst part is that they are only using it for their own ends...

      fidelity.mcoshi - 2013-01-07 19:11

      Well said, as I am sure there's nothing in the Quran about barring women from riding Harleys!

  • fred.potgieter.92 - 2013-01-07 18:29

    A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death - Albert Einstein

  • ngoako.mathekga - 2013-01-07 18:42

    Sound like a joke.

  • raymond.mcnelly - 2013-01-07 20:26

    This article is about Sharia law, an Islamic LAW. Why always drag Christianity into the fray?

  • koliswa.fihlani - 2013-01-08 07:25

    one day is one day when power relations will change

  • selven.pillay.900 - 2013-01-08 08:57

    Seriousely!! then i think that that government should provide cars for those women or shut the f.. up

      cathy.dejongh.5 - 2013-01-08 10:33

      Or maybe have a compulsory rule that all males from adolescence upwards have a litre of anti-testosterone tea daily, and be arrested for indecency and a fine if they so much as look at a woman in public. F***ers.

  • brendon.nel.7 - 2013-01-08 13:17

    Whaaaat????? Ha ha ha ha madness.

  • themba.khumalo.520 - 2013-01-08 13:50

    There were no motorcycles, let alone bicycles, during Muhammad's time.

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