05/06/2015, 00.00
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Aceh, new pro-sharia rules: males and females separated at school

by Mathias Hariyadi
Since yesterday the regency has imposed a division between the sexes in educational institutions. The measure relates to schools, colleges and universities. Travel by motorcycle between people of different sexes banned, unless there is a marital relationship. Shopkeepers banned from displaying mannequins in the window.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Inspired once again by Islamic law, the North Aceh regency has ordered the prohibition of mixed classes in throughout the territory. The new "quanun" issued yesterday will radically change the habits of the students in the region, and orders a strict separation of the sexes within the school buildings.

A promuovere con forza la nuova norma ispirata alla sharia un consigliere della reggenza di North Aceh, il quale precisa che le classi composte da maschi e femmine saranno ammesse solo nelle scuole elementari. Alle medie e alle superiori (dal settimo al dodicesimo grado), invece, vi sarà una rigida separazione dei sessi. La nuova legge vale anche per gli universitari, che sono “fortemente consigliati” a studiare e seguire le lezioni in classi diverse. 

A of North Aceh Regency councilor who vigorously promoted the new law inspired by sharia, states that classes consisting of males and females will be allowed only in elementary schools. In middle school and high school (seventh to twelfth grade), however, there will be a strict separation of the sexes. The new law also applies to the university, where students are "strongly recommended" to study and take lessons in different classes.

Other provisions within the same "quanun", include a ban on males and females travelling on motorbikes together, unless the two people are husband and wife. The only exception to the ban, is for "on an emergency".

The president of North Aceh Fauzan Hamzah explained that the rules serve to reduce the cases of adultery, which include "underground" prostitution and extra-marital relations. The measure linked to the school also intends to strengthen young people's attention on their studies.

Young people will also attend sessions of Islamic prayer after school, while older students will have to do it in the appropriate places of worship. Finally, retailers will no longer be allowed to use mannequins in their window displays, or figures that evoke the animal world.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has increasingly become the scene of attacks or episodes of intolerance against minority groups like Christians and Ahmadi Muslims.

Aceh is the only Indonesian province to enforce Islamic law (Sharia). This special situation was part of a peace agreement signed by the central government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). However, a more radical and extreme vision of Islam is also spreading in other parts of the country (like Bekasi and Bogor regencies in West Java).

However, the decision to toughen laws, regulations, rules and customs has failed to find favour with a large proportion of the local population, forced to change long held customs and habits.

Many  in Aceh oppose greater restrictions, especially with regards to women wearing jeans and tight skirts , travelling astride motorcycles, or dancing in public because they "stir desire" and a ban on St. Valentines Day.


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