Fresh off the international presses, the Indonesian town of Lhokseumawe (population 170,000) aims to pass a regulation that would forbid women from straddling a motorcycle while a passenger on a male-riden motorbike. The town’s mayor, Suaidi Yahya, says the regulation aims to save people’s “morals and behaviors” — unsurprisingly, Lhokseumawe resides in the only region of Indonesia that follows Sharia law.
The regulation will now mean that women need to sit side-saddle when a passenger on a motorcycle, though it would seem that the regulation doesn’t apply if another women is driving the motorcycle. According to Mayor Suaidi, women can still sit straddled on the motorcycle when they are riding alone, assuming they are appropriately dressed.
For a little background, Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country (81% of the population follows Islam). However, while the rest of country practices a moderate form of the religion, the Aceh province, which has had special autonomy since 2001, is the only area in the democratic country that implements Sharia law.
Opposition in the Muslim community has already voiced its concerns about Suaidi’s proposed regulations, citing that Islam’s holy texts are mute about the proper way to ride as a passenger on a motorcycle. “How to ride a motorbike is not regulated in Sharia. There is no mention of it in the Koran or Hadiths,” said liberal Islamic activist Ulil Abshar Abdalla on his Twitter account.
Feminist groups in Indonesia have obviously comedown against the proposed regulation, adding that the region has more pressing issues than how a woman rides on the back of a motorcycle. Suaidi hopes to implement these regulations, as well as the side-saddle regulation, in a few months’ time.
In other news, Lhokseumawe also hopes to pass regulations that ban women from wearing tight trousers, and allows for the stoning of adulterers, as well as the flogging of homosexuals.