Opposition to anti-porn bill keeps mounting

Yuli Tri Suwarni and Ni Komang ErvianiThe Jakarta Post ,  Bandung, Denpasar   |  Tue, 10/14/2008 10:15 AM  |  Headlines

The controversial anti-pornography bill is drawing yet more opposition from various parts of the country, with many fearing the bill could threat the traditions of several ethnic groups in Indonesia.

In Bandung, dozens of women wearing kebaya (a traditional blouse) staged a rally at the West Java Legislative Council demanding the council reject the bill.

Members of various women’s organizations said they wanted the councilors to support their cause by sending a letter to the House of Representatives stating their objections.

Agnes Dwi Rujiati, spokeswoman for the West Java Network to Reject the Anti-Porn Bill, said the bill was a serious threat to freedom and human rights, and opened the way for intervention in women’s rights over their body.

“Our country recognizes pluralism, but the bill would require all people to have a uniform opinion on morality and how to use their bodies,” she said.

“This is very unfair.”

Agnes said by wearing kebaya, the women were showing it off as a traditional attire and also an indelible part of Indonesia’s identity.

In Denpasar, a forum held at the governor’s office lambasted the House’s working committee deliberating the bill.

Hundreds of Balinese representing various social, political, religious and women’s organizations, took turns presenting their objections to the bill.

Among the groups in attendance were the influential Grand Council of Customary Villages, the United Front of Mount Agung, and the Bali’s People Component (KRB) — a loose coalition spearheading the opposition movement against the bill.

Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika, who presided over the gathering, also stated the Bali administration’s official objection to the bill.

Pastika sent his letter of objection, addressed to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and House Speaker Agung Laksono, early last week.

Dewa Ngurah Swastha, representative of the Grand Council of Customary Villages — an umbrella organization of more than 5,000 customary villages across the island — argued for the bill to be rejected because it threatened the integrity of the unitary republic of Indonesia.

“The Balinese people reject the bill because it also poses a grave danger to the culture and traditional customs of the Balinese,” he stressed.

Swastha went on to threaten the island’s split from the country if the government insisted on passing the bill.

“If they push the bill through, then we might proclaim Bali as a free state,” he said.

In Manado, the North Sulawesi Legislative Council rejected the bill with a 43-2 vote, saying it would do nothing to deal with provincial aspirations.

“So far the bill has not contributed positively to the pluralistic Indonesian society, so we must reject its deliberation,” Arthur Kotambunan, the council’s deputy speaker, was quoted as saying by Antara.

He said North Sulawesi was a province that highly respected freedom by embracing local religions and cultural values, thus an anti-pornography law was not needed.

About erviani

Jatuh cinta dengan dunia jurnalistik sejak bergabung dengan Lembaga Pers Mahasiswa Indikator, Fakultas Ekonomi Universitas Brawijaya. Sempat bekerja untuk Harian Warta Bali, 2003 - 2005, Koresponden Majalah GATRA untuk wilayah Bali, anggota redaksi Media HIV/AIDS dan Narkoba KULKUL, TPI, dan Koran Seputar Indonesia. Menulis lepas kini menjadi aktivitas keseharian. Kini aktif sebagai kontributor untuk beberapa media yakni Bali Daily-The Jakarta Post, Mongabay Indonesia, dan Khabat Southeast Asia.
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