Tag Archives: Gender

New Law in Aceh Allows Stoning to Death of Adulters


I’ll write more about this later, but for now, just want to share. Article from AFP.

Indonesian rights groups condemn new stoning law

By Nurdin Hassan (AFP) – 19 hours ago

BANDA ACEH — Indonesian rights activists condemned as “cruel and degrading” on Tuesday a new Islamic law calling for adulterers to be stoned to death in the country’s staunchly conservative Aceh province.

The law — which also allows punishments of up to 400 lashes for child rape, 100 lashes for homosexual acts and 60 lashes for gambling — was passed unanimously Monday by lawmakers in the region at the northern tip of Sumatra island.

The law replaces elements of Indonesia’s criminal code with sharia, or Islamic law, for Muslims. It allows the death penalty for married people and 100 lashes for unmarried people found guilty in cases of adultery.

“The laws that have been approved in Aceh are cruel and degrading to humanity,” National Commission on Human Rights head Ifdhal Kasim told AFP.

The law undermines the secular basis of Indonesia’s law, Kasim said, adding the rights group was appealing to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to review the legislation.

“This will bring Aceh back to the past. Throwing stones is like Aceh in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries,” Kasim said, adding the law would likely embolden conservatives pushing for sharia on a national level.

The controversial legal change was passed in Aceh just weeks before a new, more moderate provincial assembly — dominated by the Aceh Party of former separatist fighters of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) — is due to take power.

The administration of Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf, himself a former GAM fighter, is opposed to the strict sharia law, but has said it is powerless to stop the law, which will come into effect in 30 days with or without his signature.

“(The law) only deals with petty crimes, adulterers, but it doesn’t deal with (significant crimes such as) corrupt officials,” Human Rights Watch spokesman Andreas Harsono said.

“In our opinion it is against the principle of human rights,” he said.

Human Rights Working Group head Rafendi Djamin said the punishments set out in the law were “humiliating and degrading” and a product of politicking among local leaders.

“They’re more interested in private issues than issues of the wider public interest like corruption and measures to empower people who have been suffering in the wake of conflict,” Djamin said.

Arif Budimanta, a senior official of the opposition Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, condemned the law — despite local members having supported it in the Aceh assembly.

“We are deeply concerned about this cruel law as it is against our national ideology and values of pluralism,” he said.

Spokesmen for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a liberal ex-general re-elected by a landslide earlier this year, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ma’ruf Amin, the head of the Indonesian Council of Ulema, Indonesia’s top Islamic body, welcomed the new hardline law.

“The Council supports sharia law in areas where it is allowed, like Aceh, which has special autonomy. It’s not a matter of good or bad.

“For Muslims, sharia law is the best and can be implemented anytime, anywhere. As long as there is agreement from everyone, there’s no problem,” Amin said.

Aceh had previously adopted a milder form of sharia law in 2001 as part of an autonomy package from Jakarta aimed at quelling local separatist sentiment.

The sharia code enforced religious observation and offered lighter punishments — including caning — for gambling, drinking and association between unmarried members of the opposite sex.

Separatists in Aceh had been fighting the Indonesian government since 1976 until a peace deal in 2005 in a conflict that claimed over 15,000 lives.

Nearly 90 percent of Indonesia’s 234 million people are Muslim, but the country also has significant Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Confucian minorities. Most Muslims practise a moderate form of the religion.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

Where is the discussion headed for women and men?

Good morning friends, have you got a cup of coffee or tea? Bring it to the computer and enjoy the following column by Courtney Martin writing for the American Prospect.

In Don’t Call It a ‘He-cession’, Courtney writes,

Just in time for Father’s Day, Men’s Health editor-in-chief David Zincenko penned a USA Today op-ed heralding the “Great He-cession” as one more example of how men are “an endangered species.” Citing statistics about men’s declining job security, shorter life span, and lack of government attention, he pits women against men in a delusional race for resources. He writes: “Let’s think about men. It’s about time we caught a break, and a he-covery would be just the thing.” As if thinking about men would be a big societal shift.

Zincenko’s ingratiating use of cutesy prefixes and total neglect of historical fact aside, this sort of polarized punditry is exactly what keeps both men and women from making true progress. The truth is our fates are inextricably tied together, not running on two parallel tracks. When men lose their jobs — and, indeed, they have at a higher rate than women recently — American families all suffer, just as they suffer when women are paid unequal wages or fired for missing work to take care of sick kids or an elderly parent. Newsflash: Men aren’t from Mars and women aren’t from Venus; we’re all struggling to make healthy, meaningful lives on the same damn planet — and it’s time we started acting like it.

The article discusses the possibility of men and women working together to point out that gender stereotypes suck for everyone, and the possibilty of men taking a stand against sexual assault without it implying that all men are bastards.

Another great passage from Courtney:

Some men worry that decrying sexual assault is weak or vilifies their own kind, that taking a stand against gender-based violence means admitting that men are scum. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Working to end violence against women proves that men can do better than the “toxic masculinity” — in the words of author Stephen Ducat — that pervades so much of contemporary male culture. There’s nothing inherently cruel or deviant about guys; when men stand up against violence, they reinforce that more evolved reality.

Enjoy the article and let me know what you think in the comments.

In the media

A couple of articles from last week about some of the work my organisation* is doing:

COMMENT: The challenge of pluralism – Farish A Noor, Daily Times

Conference urges revision of Islamic Jurisprudence, Jakarta Post

*organisation is conveniently not mentioned

Best thing on the web this week.

If there was any weight in a Where is Sarah? endorsement I would back the following clip 100%.

I found this on Jezebel (a shorter version) which, by the way, has plenty to say on Sarah Palin’s candidacy. I’m not bored by the US elections anymore.

The Pen Has Been in Their Hands

I just finished reading Jane Austen’s Persuasion and I will admit that it’s the first Jane Austen novel I’ve read. I guess the BBC series’ don’t count, do they?

I think Jane Austen’s feminist credentials have been discussed/debated at length in various places, so this might not be earth-shattering for some. But I read a passage in Persuasion that perfectly captures an idea that’s come up a few times this year in my work. When Sarah writes about it she get wordy and needs to qualify it, and gets caught up with using the appropriate term of the moment etc etc. When Jane writes about it…well, from now on I will just refer to Jane.

To introduce the following passage, Anne is arguing with Captain Harville about whether men or women harbour heart ache longer. Captain Harville insists that men don’t get over heartbreak easily (“and that as our bodies are strongest, so are our feelings”). Anne argues that women are more fragile and thus suffer more. Keep an eye on Anne’s response to Harville.

Harville says:

‘as I was saying, we shall never agree, I suppose, upon this point. No man and woman would, probably. But let me observe that all histories are against you–all stories, prose and verse. If I had such a memory as Benwick, I could bring you fifty quotations in a moment on my side the argument, and I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon women’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs all talk of woman’s fickleness. But, perhaps, you will say these were all written by men.’


‘Perhaps I shall. Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.’

It reminds us why it’s so important for women to tell their own stories (and to report on the world too, as journalists, historians, academics etc). In Aceh there is a huge gap. I’m working on a book at the moment that is the first collection of essays written by Acehnese women to be published. My organisation was motivated to publish this book because there is so much written about Aceh but very little of it is written by the women of Aceh, who will give unique perspectives and reflect a whole different set of issues to the men of Aceh, or people coming from outside (men or women). We often think about ‘what issues are being written about’, but sometimes overlook the important question of ‘who is writing about the issues’.