Home Affairs Spokesman: ‘Discriminatory’ Bylaws Actually Protect Women

By webadmin on 03:26 pm Nov 23, 2012
Category Archive

Camelia Pasandaran

The National Commission on Violence
Against Women says the number of bylaws in Indonesia that
discriminate against women is increasing, but the Home Affairs
Ministry spokesman said on Friday that it was all a matter of
perspective.

The commission, known as Komnas
Perempuan, said on Thursday that it found 282 bylaws that
discriminate against women in 100 districts and cities in 28
provinces across Indonesia. Among them are bylaws that prohibit women
from dressing in certain ways and going out late at night. Last year, the commission found 189
such discriminatory laws.

The commission said West Java and West
Sumatra were among the provinces that issued the most number of discriminatory
bylaws. West Sumatra, it said, has 33 such bylaws.

But Reydonnyzar Monoek, the spokesman
of the Home Affairs Ministry, which has the authority to review and
revoke bylaws, said he doubted the number was that high.

“Let us sit together and try to
understand the substance of the bylaws so that we can have the same
perspective,” he told the Jakarta Globe on Friday.

“For instance, can you really say
that a bylaw prohibiting women from going out at night in Tangerang,
excluding factory workers who have to work the late shift, is
discriminatory? It’s being made to sound like it’s restricting women,
but it’s actually protecting them from crime.”

He said he also saw nothing wrong with
a bylaw in Tasikmalaya, West Java, that obliged Muslim women to wear
a hijab in the city.

“It’s only mandatory for Muslims, not
for Christians,” Reydonnyzar said. “Tasikmalaya residents are
religious people.”

The spokesman added that people should
realize that men and women were created with different rights and
obligations.

“In the context of cultural values, though
dressing is a personal matter, there are norms to be followed in the
public space,” he said.

“Besides, before a bylaw is
passed, there’s a period of public consultation,” he said. “Where
were those civil society organizations during that period? Why are
they protesting now?”

Komnas Perempuan deputy chairman
Masruchah said the ministry spokesman did not know what he was
talking about.

“The way government protects women should
not be discriminatory,” she told the Globe on Friday. “Do you think a single woman
who’s sick in the middle of the night should have to consult with the
government first before going out to visit a hospital? And it should
be understood that not every Muslim woman wants to wear a hijab. The
government should not enforce religious obligations.”

Masruchah
said that instead of limiting women’s rights, the government should
think of ways to prevent crime.

“They should instead assign
more police officers at night, install more street lights and educate
people about gender awareness,” she said.

She added that
the commission has actually been coordinating with the government and
has created a team to address the issue, including with the legal
division of the Home Affairs Ministry.

The news comes two weeks ahead of the
4th conference on “Role of Women in Development” Organization of
Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states, which will take place in
Jakarta from Dec. 4-6. The theme of the conference is “Strengthening
Women’s Participation and Roles in Economic Development in OIC Member
States.”