Indonesian minister suggests banning miniskirts under porn law

Women wearing miniskirts and tight leggings protest against the idea that provocatively dressed women are to blame for sexual assaults. September 18, 2011. [Reuters]
PHOTO

Women wearing miniskirts and tight leggings protest against the idea that provocatively dressed women are to blame for sexual assaults. September 18, 2011. [Reuters]

Last Updated: Thu, 29 Mar 2012 22:06:00 +1100

Indonesia's Commission for Women's Rights has condemned a government minister's suggestion that miniskirts be banned under controversial anti-pornography laws.

Religious affairs minister Suryadharma Ali said on Wednesday that skirts "above the knee" should be defined as pornographic, amid a wider debate about freedom of expression and religion in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

"This country keeps taking steps backward," said Masruchah, deputy head of the national commission on violence against women.

"As a democratic nation, the government must ensure that everybody has the right to express themselves freely, as guaranteed by the constitution," said Masruchah, who goes by one name.

"This country must stop criminalising women's bodies and blaming women's clothing for inviting sexual assault."

The commission is officially independent but gets funding from the government.

'Pornography'


Jakarta governor Fauzi Bowo last year blamed a spate of rapes on public minivans on the victims' miniskirts.

In 2008, Indonesia passed an anti-pornography law that criminalises all works and bodily movements that could be deemed obscene and capable of violating public morality, including art, dancing, music and poetry.

The law was met with widespread criticism for being draconian and discriminatory against women.

Ali was appointed chair of the anti-pornography taskforce, established this month to implement the controversial law that has seen dancers, strippers and pop stars arrested.

"There must be a set of universal criteria to define something as pornographic, one of which will be when a woman wears a skirt above the knee," Ali was quoted by the Jakarta Post newspaper as saying.

His comments came just three weeks after several parliamentarians suggested banning female lawmakers from wearing miniskirts to work, claiming provocative clothing makes men "do things" they cannot help.

The law faced more scrutiny last year, when local pop sensation Nazriel "Ariel" Irham was jailed for making two sex videos that were leaked to the public on the Internet and through mobile phones.

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