Women still targets of discriminatory bylaws, Women rights group says
Jakarta Globe - October 7, 2010
Dessy Sagita, Jakarta -- The National Commission on Violence Against Women
(Komnas Perempuan) said on Wednesday there were still plenty of bylaws
discriminating against women, despite the state's promise to eradicate such
"After he was re-elected, [President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] said
eradicating discriminatory bylaws would be a priority," said AndyYentriyani, a commissioner at the agency. "But instead of decreasing, the
number of these kinds of bylaws is getting bigger," she said.
Last year, Komnas Perempuan criticized the state for its failure to repeal
154 bylaws nationwide that were considered discriminatory -- 64 of which
hampered women's rights to free expression and gainful employment.Since 1999, the group has found 200 bylaws that it said suppressed women's
rights. Since last year, various state institutions have either proposed or
passed a total of 62 new policies that can violate women's rights, Andy
As an example, she cited a West Aceh policy that prohibits Muslim women
from wearing certain types of clothing. "The mayor of West Aceh used the
regional budget to buy skirts for women because, apparently, wearing jeans
was not allowed," Andy said. "This is ridiculous."
The commissioner also criticized a provincial lawmaker's proposal to have
teenaged girls undergo virginity tests before they enter state schools.
Such discriminatory policies, she says, are often used by politicians who
want to appear morally righteous in order to gain public support or
She said some bylaws were issued out of "moral panic." Some lawmakers, she
says, craft laws out of fear that their families or children will be
exposed to immoral acts. "It's sad that some bylaws were products of the
naivete of the politicians or the lawmakers," Andy said.
Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi, however, denied that discriminatory
bylaws existed in Indonesia. Despite regional autonomy, he said, the
central government still had the authority to filter laws for questionable
"If we find anything discriminative in the bylaw draft, of course we can
annul it," he said. "The real question is which bylaw is considered
discriminative? By whom? We have to understand clearly whether the bylaw
was issued to restrict women or even to protect them, and the issue is
still debatable," he said on Wednesday.
Gamawan says provinces like Aceh and Papua have been granted special
autonomy. He says provinces are generally allowed to issue any bylaw that
reflects local norms or traditions, as long as it does not run counter to
the public interest.
"Nyepi (Day of Silence) in Bali is not considered discriminatory, right? So
the regulation for women to wear skirts in West Aceh must also be
respected," he said.