West Aceh Readies for Assault on ‘Sexy’ Dress

Banda Aceh, TAG. A West Aceh district bylaw banning Muslim women from wearing short skirts or tight jeans is unclear and could lead to chaos, a female activist said on Friday.

The bylaw comes into force in August. Starting on Monday the district’s Shariah Police will launch a public awareness campaign about the regulation, which has been signed by district head Ramli Mansur. 

Ramli said raids would be carried out and women caught in public showing skin or wearing figure-revealing jeans would be dressed in full-length skirts. 

“In Meulaboh [the district capital], the raids will be conducted constantly, so there will be no more people wearing tight outfits,” Ramli said. 

But Rosni, a 56-year-old women’s rights activist who said she would keep wearing trousers, said the bylaw was too strict and open to multiple interpretations. 

For instance, the bylaw requires women to wear loose skirts and tops that cover all parts of the body except the face, palm and feet. Men are also forbidden from wearing shorts in public. But it also states that women’s outfits should not be “too attractive.” 

“So women who dress nice so they can appear confident and beautiful will be looked at differently by people,” Rosni said. “And what exactly is the meaning of attractive outfits anyway?” 

She said there would also be confusion over the punishment for those women found in violation of the bylaw, which does not define the kind of sanctions that can be handed out. Instead, the regulation says “moral sanctions” should be imposed by local leaders and heads of institutions such as universities as they see fit. 

“This is dangerous because there might be different sanctions from one village to another, handed out by village heads, principals or rectors,” Rosni said. 

This, she said, is a recipe for confusion and discrimination. 

The district administration, though, claims there is overwhelming support for the bylaw among Muslim religious leaders, academics, government officials, students and other public figures in Meulaboh. 

Dewi Fithria, the 38-year-old executive director of Aceh Ranub, an NGO that works for women’s and children’s empowerment in West Aceh, is among the bylaw’s supporters. 

“Even without a bylaw, Allah stated that every woman should cover her aurat [parts of the body that should not be shown under Islamic law],” Dewi said. “As a Muslim woman, I support and appreciate the decision of the West Aceh district head.” 

Dewi said many cases of sexual abuse and rape could be blamed on women wearing “sexy outfits.”[]
West Aceh Readies for Assault on ‘Sexy’ Dress West Aceh Readies for Assault on ‘Sexy’ Dress Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on May 22, 2010 Rating: 5

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