Aceh Hands Out ‘Islamic’ Skirts
Islamic police in Aceh province have been issued with 20,000 long skirts and ordered to cover up women deemed to have broken Muslim dress codes.
The province on northern Sumatra island has banned Muslim women from wearing figure-hugging clothing such as tight trousers, under Islamic bylaws that have outraged less conservative parts of the mainly Muslim archipelago.
Vice and virtue officers in West Aceh district have been told that from Wednesday they should ask women wearing the wrong clothes to put on the government-issue skirts on the spot.
“Starting tomorrow morning, I will hand over some 20,000 skirts to the sharia police in West Aceh,” West Aceh district chief Ramli Mansur said.
“Female offenders can then immediately change their tight pants to the long, loose skirts if the sharia police catch them.”
Mansur said that one day he would have to answer to God about what he did to enforce sharia or Islamic laws, so residents should expect increased vigilance and “raids” by the morality squad, known as the “wilayatul hisbah.”
“We’ll increase raids on sharia offenders here. In the hereafter, God will ask me to be responsible for what I’ve done during my term in West Aceh,” he said.
Vice and virtue officers stopped and interrogated 30 women over their clothes as they entered a village in West Aceh on Tuesday.
“What’s wrong with the way I’m dressed? What law did I break? Am I a terrorist that I’m being asked to show my identity card?” 40-year-old Fatimah asked officers who stopped her.
Her protests fell on deaf ears and she eventually covered her jeans with a skirt she had brought from home.
The “Islamic police” do not have the power to arrest women for violations of the dress codes but they regularly stop them and demand they change their clothing.
The force can however arrest people for other religious offences, such as gambling, adultery and drinking alcohol, for which the punishment is caning.
Last year the outgoing provincial parliament passed a bill allowing adulterers and homosexuals to be put to death by stoning, but it has not been signed into law by Governor Irwandi Yusuf.
Human rights groups say the vice and virtue squad has no legal standing under the country’s secular constitution, disproportionately targets women and encourages vigilantism.Filed under: Headlines