INDONESIAN male drivers are easily distracted, and the sight of a woman straddling a motorbike might cause a crash or “provoke” a driver.
That, apparently is the logic behind a planned crackdown by the authorities in the Indonesian city of Lhokseumawe on women who straddle bikes.
According to this report civic leaders in Aceh province, which is ruled by strict sharia law, also claim that straddling a bike constitutes an “un-Islamic” practice, and henceforth females are to ride side-saddle.
Legislators said that it was “improper” for women to sitting astride motorbikes.
Women, however, will be allowed to straddle motorbikes if they are controlling it, but only if they are dressed in a “Muslim way”.
Mayor Suaidi Yahya added:
Women sitting on motorbikes must not sit astride because it will provoke the male driver. It’s also to protect women from an undesirable condition.
The mayor lamented the fact that behaviour and morals were straying from Aceh’s Islamic cultural values.
We want to save women from things that will cause them to violate shariah law. We wish to honour women with this ban because they are delicate creatures.
Apart from the side-saddle rule other laws have been passed that prohibit women from wearing tight trousers, and permits the flogging of homosexuals and stoning of adulterers.
Aceh started implementing sharia law after it was granted autonomy in 2001.
The straddling ban will come into effect over the next few months and the government plans to distribute handouts to inform residents. Penalties for infringement have not been detailed.
Nanda, a student from Lhokseumawe’s Malikussaleh University, said the new law was ridiculous. Straddling a bike was safer and more comfortable, she said.
Last month, 16 people were publicly flogged in front of the Grand Mosque Baitul Makmur Meulaboh for gambling and indecent behaviour.
Police chief Jhon Aswir said public flogging demonstrated the government’s commitment to enforcing Islamic law.
Hat tip: Rabbit on a Stick