Indonesia Porn Bill Protects Women, Children: Top Scholar
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CAIRO, March 24, 2006 (IslamOnline.net) – Indonesia's Porn Bill, which has caused uproar in the world's most populous Muslim state, has been principally proposed to protect women and children against abuses and exploitation, one of the country's top scholars said on Friday, March 24.
"People must understand that this draft law is being deliberated because we are trying to protect women and children, not to criminalize them," Amidhan, the chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), told the Jakarta Post in an interview.
He said the bill was of high necessity to protect the morals of the young people in the country.
The controversial motion has been debated by the Indonesian parliament to modify some contentious clauses in an effort to reach a halfway house between its opponents and supporters.
In its original form, the draft bill, initially proposed in 1999 and officially titled the Anti-Pornography and Pornographic Acts Bill, imposes fines on women who refuse to cover "sensitive" body parts, such as hair, shoulders, midriffs and legs.
Violators risk jail terms and fines up to Rp 2 billion (about US$214,000).
Another article legislates a seven-year jail term for people caught kissing in public.
"I think we need stern regulations until our people are mature enough to understand that pornographic acts are a private matter, and cannot be shown in public," said Amidhan.
The motion has drawn fire from many rights groups, including artists and liberals, arguing that the bill encroached on personal freedoms and could scare away tourists in multicultural Indonesia.
But the Muslim scholar begged to differ.
"They (the protesters) seem to have forgotten that the bill sets conditions to allow existing cultures and traditions to remain," he told the daily.
"The law will only be as rigid as it is written: only those who intentionally exhibit pornographic actions in public will face sanctions."
Amidhan said a legal mechanism will be drafted to persecute people accused of performing pornographic acts in public.
Stripteases, for instance, will be subject to punishment under the motion, he explained.
"As for dangdut singers who perform erotic dances on TV, should we call the singers, especially female ones, promoters of pornography, despite their claim that their erotic moves breathe life into the music and songs? Those who disagree can turn off their TVs."
The Muslim scholar dismissed the idea of educating the Indonesians about sex instead of proposing the bill.
"Sex education can only be accepted in countries where the majority of the population is well educated. I guess a mother can give a lesson to her daughter about how the dangers of premarital sex.
"But sex education for uneducated people, to some extent, will just arouse them to commit pornographic acts," he argued.
The issue has stirred a heated controversy in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim state where Muslims make up 80% percent of the 220 million population.
The Indonesian city of Tangerang, 20 kilometers west of Jakarta, already has by-laws of its own prohibiting the sale of alcoholics and prostitution.
Its mayor announced earlier in the month plans to impose a dress code for school girls to be dressed modestly when they go to the classes as part of a wider conservative policy cracking down on vice and immorality.
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