News / Asia

Filmmakers in Indonesia Share Women's Stories About Life Under Islamic Law

Islamic law has been raising questions in Indonesia, a Muslim-majority nation where some provinces are adopting regulations based on Sharia, or Islamic, principles. Human rights groups, however, warn that the laws often are enforced unfairly, particularly for women. Filmmakers in Indonesia have recently released documentaries to show the effects Islamic law has on women.

The film opens with shots of a market, where mannequins in tight-fitting T-shirts contrast with girls in long skirts and headscarves. The sight is common in Aceh Province, which gained the right to implement Sharia law as a part of a peace accord with the Indonesian government.

To show the role Sharia plays in the life of Muslim women, organizers of a recent female film festival in Jakarta highlighted five documentaries on the subject.

Director Ucu Agustin says she worries people are not critical enough of laws that restrict their freedoms.

She says Sharia law should protect Muslims, but from what she has seen they are often the victims. She thinks one day there will be a resistance, but it may come after too many people have been victimized.

There are Muslims who disagree. Around the world, many Muslims welcome Sharia, particularly as a way to fight corruption and social problems such as prostitution. The films include interviews with people who endorse Sharia, such as two young Acehnese women who say modest dress is needed to cover the parts of the body said to entice men.

Another film reveals widespread support for the whipping punishment handed down to a Muslim woman in Malaysia, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukharno, who was caught drinking a beer in public. The sentence was later reduced to three weeks of community service.

The film's director, Norhayati Kaprawi, also a member of a Muslim women's rights group in Malaysia, says she was shocked when she saw a survey that indicated around 75 percent of Malaysian Muslims supported the caning sentence.

Men have also been sentenced to whipping for breaking Sharia laws in Malaysia, but Kaprawi says the Kartika case raised attention because it became a moral issue.

"I don't know whether because Kartika is a woman, or I believe that because she is a model that is also a factor, because they (Muslims) see her as a bad woman, a loose woman," Norhayati said.

Provinces on Indonesia's Sulawesi Island have passed Sharia-based laws that set curfews for women, regulate dress and punish violators with public whippings.

Yuniyanti Chuzaifah, head of the national women's rights organization Komnas Perampuan, says these laws are unfair. Not only do they clash with Indonesia's secular national laws, but they also disproportionately affect women.

"Because this is talking about morality and morality always puts women as a symbol of a nation's purity … so that's why Sharia law always uses women as a marker of identity, like controlling the body of the women with the standard of the dress code," she said.

The documentaries on Aceh showed how the Sharia police often target women. Producer Ariani Djalal says many women feel uncomfortable using public spaces, such as coffee shops or beaches, many of which bar women from swimming.  

She says the beach is a gift from nature, so why is it that only women are not free to swim? She also says the education system is becoming more fundamentalist and girls must monitor they way they dress. It is already very limited in Aceh.

Officials at Indonesia's International Center for Islam and Pluralism say aside from Aceh and South Sulawesi, local interpretations of Sharia law are mainly about wearing proper clothes and doing good deeds, which is normal and not repressive.

But many critics of Sharia say that often it is used to restrict people, and to shut down discussion of its role in Islamic life. And the filmmakers say often women have little say when the laws are written.

Agustin says that is why film is important, because it can present new ideas and opinions to those who know little about Islam in the life of women. And maybe, when they see it with their own eyes, she says, they will start to understand.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid