What does a woman’s skirt have to do with pornography?
A lot, in the mind of Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali, who says short skirts actually are a form of pornography. As head of the government’s controversial anti-pornography task force, Ali has the power to enforce a law telling women how to dress.
“We think that there should be general criteria (for women’s clothing). For example, women’s skirts should go past their knees,” the Jakarta Globe quotes Suryadharma as saying.
But such guidelines are unnecessary, argues Masruchah, head of the National Commission on Violence against Women, who says a ban on short skirts would violate the right of women to decide on how to dress up, the newspaper reports.
Besides, there are existing norms in every community in this country of diverse cultures and ethnicities, explains Masruchah. (Many Indonesians carry only one name).
Equating pornography or sexual harassment or assault with the way women dress is misplaced.
“It’s all to do with the mind-set of men,” she says, pointing out that data on rapes shows no evidence that dress codes would have any effect on sexual violence.
This is the second time in two weeks that pronouncements by Indonesia’s so-called “guardians of morals” caused a stir in the capital.
The chairman of the country’s highest Islamic authority earlier slammed the upcoming concert of Lady Gaga as ‘haram,’ or forbidden under Islamic law, because it would “destroy the country’s morality.” He even asked fans of the pop star to return their tickets to the June 3 concert in Jakarta.
The creation this month of the anti-pornography task force has been met with criticism and scorn from the public, which on the whole believes the government should address more pressing problems like corruption and poverty.
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