South Sulawesi, Indonesia A Campaign against Discriminatory Regulations


The whipping of a 13-year-old girl by the village head of Padang village, South Sulawesi, shockingly epitomized the increasing political use of Islam to spread discriminatory regulations in parts of Indonesia. She was (wrongly) accused of being in the company of an unrelated male person –a new punishable offence. In its research process, WEMC partner Solidaritas Perempuan Anging Mammiri (SP-SPAM) found that since the launch of the “Muslim Village Project” in Padang village, local government at regency and village levels had implemented various regulations and laws that incorporated Syariah principles. Most of these regulations were aimed at controlling women’s behaviour, mobility and space. The most severe form of control is the implementation of the “whipping law” (hukum cambuk), which made whipping a punishment for women found conducting “sexual relations outside of marriage”(zina). This includes talking to an unrelated male at night. This regulation is one of the concrete manifestations of the influence of Islamic fundamentalist forces in the region. Together with other women’s groups in South Sulawesi, SPAM rallied for the repeal of the “whipping law”, arguing that it contradicted the constitution, national laws and Indonesia’s international and national commitments on women’s rights. The campaign culminated in the provincial governor issuing an edict to village leaders to stop discriminatory regulations – another step towards ending the trend of legitimizing women’s disempowerment in the name of religion.

Thanks to Solidaritas Perempuan Anging Mammiri (SP-SPAM) and Women's Empowerment in Muslim Contexts for the tip.

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