An Indonesian city is looking to ban women from “straddling” motorcycles behind male drivers and said now women can only ride motorcycles sidesaddle.
Lhokseumawe, a city in conservative Aceh province, distributed letters to citizens, informing them of the proposed change in the law. Aceh is the only province in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, that uses Sharia law.
Lhokseumawe Mayor Suaidi Yahya said the move would salvage city residents’ “morals and behaviors,” according to the Jarkarta Globe. He added that passengers who ride sideways on bikes rarely fall off.
“We want to save women from things that will cause them to violate Shariah law. We wish to honor women with this ban, because they are delicate creatures,” Yahya said.
He did not elaborate on the punishment that would be meted out to violators, saying “once it has become a by-law, automatically there will be sanctions.” The ban is expected to go into effect in a few months.
The proposed regulation has prompted widespread criticism.
“We, the women of Lhokseumawe, strongly oppose this very discriminative regulation because it ignores the rights of women in conducting their daily activities,” Safwani, who has only one name and is the executive director of Ranup Women Institute, told the Jakarta Globe.
She added that the mayor should focus his attention on more pressing matters, including the city’s garbage disposal.
“When you think of it, the cleanliness of the city is also in line with Islamic Sharia,” she said.
Destika Gilang Lestari, a coordinator for the Commission for the Disappearance and Victims of Violence, told the paper that Yahya should focus his attention on the victims of regional conflicts.
“Why bother on such matters? The mayor should focus on the victims of these conflicts who still need the attention of the government,” Destika said.
There were 6,300 Sharia police in Aceh in 2010, according to Human Rights Watch.