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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.