Tangerang Morality Building

Mar 18th, 2006, in News, by

The municipality of Tangerang, an industrial satelite city of Jakarta with about 3 million unfortunate inhabitants, has passed a number of draconian laws against prostitution and drinking which have caused more than a few complaints.

Tangerang Council promulgated the two by-laws on Nov. 21, 2005. Bylaw No. 7/2005 bans the distribution and the sale of alcoholic drinks, except in three to five-star hotels and licensed restaurants for on-the-spot consumption. Bylaw No. 8/2005 bans people in public places, places visible from the street or in red-light districts, from persuading or coercing, either through words or gestures, others into acts of prostitution. Punishments for violations of either law range up to three months’ jail or a Rp 15 million ($1500) fine.

Next on the agenda for the morality conscious Tangerang council, it appears, is the hemline issue, a matter of great importance. While children go malnourished, and vehicles traverse roads that have elephant sized potholes, and government employees regularly extort money from the poor for just doing their job, a law is being prepared that would forbid schoolgirls from wearing skirts that end before the knees.

The laws are not mere window-dressing, they have on occasion been enforced. On the alcohol front 5 people have been arrested and put on trial. Two of the suspects were managers of Carrefour and Hyper Market located in the municipality. The Carrefour manager was fined Rp 6 million (US$645) and the Hyper Market manager Rp 3 million because of the alcoholic drinks on their shelves.

Prostitutes, or those thought to be prostitutes because they were seen to be hanging around on the street, or even inside hotel lobbies “suspiciously”, have been targeted. Recently about 30 women were rounded up and put before a judge. Some of the women swore blind they were not prostitutes. One of them, a pregnant woman who had been picked up while waiting for a bus, asked the judge to summon her husband, which the judge adamantly refused. The judge banged his gavel dramatically, declared her guilty and ordered her to pay the fine. As she did not have the Rp 300,000 ($30) with her, she had no choice but to be taken directly to the women’s prison, and her husband had no idea where she was. She spent four days in prison before being released after her schoolteacher husband paid up the money.

The laws have caused some to believe that Tangerang is slowly introducing Islamic sharia law. The mayor of the city, Wahidin, however says non. He believes that implementation of sharia would cause too much social division and adds that the aforesaid laws are based only in akhlakul kharimah, or responsibility and honesty, or morality building. Akhlakul kharimah is of course derived from religion but it does not involve the very legalistic and formal aspects of true sharia law, he says.

Some activists and community groups plan to file a request for judicial review with the Supreme Court next week on the by-law on prostitution. The Anti Discrimination Bylaw Coalition demands that the law be revoked. Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association director Dedi Ali Ahmad, who is the coordinator of the coalition, said articles in the bylaw were vague and open to interpretation, leaving all women vulnerable to the accusation of soliciting.

Article 4 (1) of the bylaw states:

Every person who acts and behaves suspiciously, and comes across as being a prostitute, is prohibited from being on the streets, on playing fields, in hotels or dormitories, in residential areas or coffee shops, at amusement centers or theaters, on street corners or under bridges, or in any other public place.

The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute’s Hermawanto said the article was dangerously vague. According to the coalition, the stipulations in the bylaw run counter to the 2004 Law on Formulation of Regulations. In that law, all regulations have to fulfill the principle of clarity and of ease of implementation.

Astuti Listianingrum of the Legal Aid Institute of the Indonesian Women’s Association for Justice said that although men were also subject to the bylaw, women were most vulnerable to suspicion of being prostitutes. Astuti, who said the bylaw contravened a 1984 law on the eradication of discrimination against women, noted that people detained in the first crackdown, were denied their right to legal representation.

15th May 2007. Chairman of the Tangerang branch of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI), KH Turmudzi, complains that the city government is not really interested in tackling the problem of prostitution, and for example, makes no attempt to close down the brothels and cafes in the Kosambi, Teluknaga area. gatra

5 Comments on “Tangerang Morality Building”

  1. R. Patterson says:

    A pregnant prostitute – sent to jail? And it is wondered why we in Australia see Indonesian judges as less than real educated justices. R. Patterson

  2. Richard Laidlaw says:

    R Patterson – the point is, the woman wasn’t a prostitute. She was pregnant. It was an error by a judicial officer who presides over a lower court and it was resolved by the summary fine being paid. Indonesia doesn’t operate British-originated common law, or a system that provides for an accused to be deemed not guilty until proven otherwise. In that respect its judicial system is similar to that in many other countries (try telling a French examining magistrate ‘I didn’t do it’ and see where it gets you).

    Actually Indonesia functions very well. Its legal system makes mistakes (so does everyone’s) but it generally locks up lawbreakers rather than declaring them to be misunderstood individuals who should be left free to do it all again, like some legal systems I could mention.

  3. Man says:

    Follow Al Quran….4 pious men witnesses with their own eyes the adultery act being committed before a person is accused of doing such act….

    The question arises is whether the guidance from Al Quran was adhered to or the judge allows made man law to sentence the accussed….

    Study the fundamental Islamic laws as there is no flaw to it…..man made law is subject to error and ommission……

  4. Arianrhod says:

    This case is that women are guilty before innocent. How can you say that the Indonesian court justice is working? Look at the case of the Bali Bombers who have had their sentences shortend to what three years? Its not justice its demanding to PAY UP Or go to Goal! The pregnant women was denied her basic human rights!

    Also we have to look at Islam in the 9th Century and the history of the Qu’ran. These I believe are man made laws that the early Muslims wanted to created to give a sense of unity and to really make Islam as One entity.

    I don’t believe that these certain groups have this unforeseen God Given Right to dictate who is immoral and on what grounds! Women all over the world should be fighting for their basic rights as it starts with the home and being treated right by your family and having basic rights such as Education, as in Australia it is a right not a privilege.

    I think what Indonesia is doing is providing a real Reformation a break away from the Clerics or the MUI’s and giving Islam the first real chance of separating State and Religion as Indonesia is still developing their democracy.

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