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This Week in Virginity… and Other Moral Legislation

There has been a lot of legal news in Indonesia in the last few months. Much morality has been legislated and enforced. Some of it you’ve probably read.

The government here carried out a series of execution of convicted drug dealers.  These folks were caught 10 years ago and sentenced to die.  The appeals and the general bureaucracy was quite slow, so a decade on, they finally got around to killing them.  

The death penalty for drug dealing is prominently noted on entry to the country and in various places.  Many people say that these folks were all fairly warned that it was a risk.  There are lots on the other side who say that a number of the convicted were rehabilitated and that they should have their sentences commuted.  

The government saw it differently, though, and carried out the executions by firing squad.  All the convicts were shot together.  None wore blindfolds. And all were singing together when they were killed, which must have been a rather grim scene.

The government states that 50 drug users die every day here and that there are thousands of addicts, so this justifies the executions.  One wonders, though, how many lives might be saved if there were any sort of drug rehab or treatment programs around.  There are none.  There are a number of other slated to be executed soon.

There has been a similar move toward alcohol.  There is a feeling among those in the government that alcohol is too readily available to teenagers. As has been printed here, alcohol is readily available to anyone who wants it. Teenagers here, have found that mini-marts are great places to hang out.  They give away free wifi and they also sell alcohol.  It is a toss up to as to  the real reason.  
At any rate, the government proposed rather suddenly, that all alcohol sales be banned from mini-marts and with very little discussion or room for public comment, this was passed into law. it was proposed by those who support a move toward sharia law, but then picked up and championed by more secular forces.   

I asked several people what they thought about and no one agreed with the law, but they said that it must be a good law, because no one was protesting it.  And, so just like that there was no alcohol available at Mini marts.  

The day after the mini mart legislation passed, a group of men who were not the police went to a local alcohol outlet owned by an ethnic chinese and told them they were breaking the law by selling alcohol.  The store owner said the law didn’t apply to her because she wasn’t a mini mart, but the group of men said it didn’t matter and relieved her of 50 cases of beer which they promptly took down the street and drank.

There is new legislation now that would ban the sales of ALL alcohol anywhere except for tourist areas like Bali and at 5 star hotels.  There is a separate proposal that would ban public intoxication.  It is a toss up as to whether this will pass. As far as I know the penalty will not be death.  I’ve seen no laws proposing the opening of any treatment or education programs for adults or teens.

In an odd twist on the whole morals thing, while there is a strong move to control substance use, there is a movement to legalize prostitution in some areas of Jakarta. City officials admit that they’ve no way of fully stopping these transactions and feel that if they legalize it in certain areas, health and government workers can contain the practice and better monitor for STD’s and provide religious guidance to workers.  HIV rates among sex workers approaches 65% by some estimates.

And then there’s this. Perhaps you’ve seen in the news, the calls to ban the practice of the “two-fingered virginity test” for female military recruits. It seems this is a long standing practice that serves as screen to prevent “naughty” women from entering the armed forces on the grounds that such women are mentally unfit.  Despite the calls to ban the practice, the military says it will continue the practice apparently building a well-behaved, compliant and sexually humiliated fighting force.

And in Aceh, which is province in Indonesia that was fighting for independence.  This fight ended, though when the government agreed to let the province impose sharia law there.  
Recently they have instituted a law where all education will be same sex and that women will no longer be allowed to ride on motorbikes with men as this is unseemly.  Also, because straddling a motorbike may threaten a woman’s virginity, and because they value purity and chastity more than safety, they will soon begin enforcing a long-standing law requiring women to only ride side saddle on a motor bike.  I have not seen how this will work if a woman is driving the motor bike.
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