Banda Aceh imposes curfew on women

Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia’s devoutly Muslim province of Aceh, has placed a curfew on women in a move that its mayor says is intended to protect them from sexual abuse and other crimes.

Under the new regulation that came into force on June 4, women who work in places as such as cafes and entertainment spots should stop their activities and be home by 11 pm, said Banda Aceh Mayor Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal.

Minors and women in general are not allowed to be present in such places areas after 10 p.m, unless they are accompanied by their husbands or male family members, she said.

“The regulation is intended to protect women from vice,” Illiza told The Parrot.

Establishments could face closure if they violate the directive, but women who break the curfew would not be punished.

“They will be asked to go home and may be reprimanded,” she said.

The mayor said the regulation was in line with Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah’s instruction dating back to February 2014, which bars women from being in public without a male relative present after 10 pm.

According to a study released in February by The Foundation Kita dan Buah Hati, Aceh recorded more cases of sexual harassment than other provinces in Indonesia.

Illiza Sa'aduddin Djamal mayor of Banda Aceh.
The 41-year old Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, mayor of Banda Aceh.

Sharia law has been in place in Aceh since the early 2000s as part of government attempts to mollify desires for independence.

Drinking, gambling and mixing with the opposite sex while unmarried are punishable by public caning.

In 2005, the government and separatist rebels of the Free Aceh Movement signed a peace deal ending decades of armed conflict, which claimed an estimated 15,000 lives.

Regional autonomy means that other areas in Indonesia have also imposed their versions of sharia-inspired bylaws.

By early 2010 more than 150 bylaws regulating private morality have been enacted in 52 regencies or municipalities across the country, according to the National Commission on Violence Against Women.

Rights groups say many these bylaws violate women’s rights by placing undue restrictions on their personal dress and freedom of movement.

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