West Aceh to Wield Skirts in Its War on ‘Indecency’

Banda Aceh, TAG. If you are a Muslim woman heading to West Aceh in the near future, leave the jeans at home and pack your best ankle-length skirts.

That’s because if you get caught in public showing a bit of skin or wearing jeans, the district’s Wilayatul Hisbah, or Shariah Police, won’t hesitate to publicly dress you in a full-length skirt. 

Under a new bylaw that comes into force next week, members of the Shariah Police will stop Muslim women wearing short skirts, tights or jeans and force them into full-length skirts, which will be provided free of charge by the West Aceh administration. 

The new district regulation, which had been delayed for the past five months in the face of intense criticism from human rights activists, will come into effect on Tuesday, West Aceh district chief Ramli Mansur said earlier. 

He also said that 16,000 skirts had been prepared by the administration for the bylaw. 

Ramli said he wanted the bylaw, which requires all Muslim women to wear full-length skirts in public, to come into force in January, but was forced to delay the implementation while gathering support for the measure. 

The bylaw, which is scheduled to be signed by Ramli on Tuesday, was circulated among Muslim religious leaders, academics, government officials, students and other public figures in Meulaboh, the district capital, as a test of whether it would be accepted. 

Teuku Abdurrazak, operations chief of the Shariah Police in West Aceh, told the Jakarta Globe the response to the bylaw had been overwhelmingly positive. 

“They really support the bylaw and want it implemented with all their hearts,” he said. 

West Aceh recently recruited 50 new officers for the Shariah Police, bringing to 92 the number of Shariah officers in the district. 

“We have made preparations for the implementation of the bylaw,” Abdurrazak said. 

He was referring to Shariah Police operations at government offices and the Meulaboh Agung Mosque, among other locations, to check whether women were wearing full-length skirts. 

“These operations have been intensified in the border areas of West Aceh as well,” he said. 

“If there are those violating the law, like women wearing tights, we advise them not to repeat the mistake again.” 

Asked if women had been found wearing tight clothing deemed inappropriate, Abdurrazak answered: “Yes, we see this at government offices. As soon as they see our men, they immediately try to avoid us or go home altogether.” 

Abdurrazak said that when the bylaw officially came into force, these operations would be intensified. “We will apply it to the letter. Any items of clothing we seize will be destroyed.” 

Ramli could not be contacted on Thursday for comment on the issue. The district chief said earlier that the skirts had been stored in a warehouse and had been donated by a number of parties who supported the bylaw.[]
West Aceh to Wield Skirts in Its War on ‘Indecency’ West Aceh to Wield Skirts in Its War on ‘Indecency’ Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on May 21, 2010 Rating: 5

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