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Religious leaders back ban on female passengers straddling motorcycles

Aceh Post - January 1, 2013

Irman I.P, Lhokseumawe Ė Ulema Consultative Assembly (MPU) chairperson Tgk H Asnawi Abdullah from the Northern Acehnese city of Lhokseumawe supports the plan by Lhokseumawe Mayor Suaidi Yahya to issue a regulation banning women from sitting astride motorbikes when riding as passengers.

"We support it, the aim is so that it's more polite. We have already given input to the mayor encouraging him to issue such a [regulation], but we haven't discussed the technical details of it yet. Primarily it was a request to issue a regulation on women riding motorbikes", Abdullah told the Aceh Post by phone on Tuesday January 1.

Abdullah said that the MPU had suggested the enforcement of such a regulation during the previous mayor's term, including prohibiting adult men who are not their lawful spouse or relative from carrying female passengers on motorbikes.

"What we are deeply concerned about is seeing RBT (motorbike taxi drivers) carrying two women passengers at the same time sitting astride", he said.

"But the previous mayor wasn't prepared to issue a regulation on such a prohibition, perhaps they were afraid that it would create frictions with RBT. We hope that the current major will enforce the regulation seriously, hopefully the major will have the courage not to annul the plan because of the influence of other parties", said Abdullah.

Abdullah added that even if women are riding as passenger on a motorbike with their husbands they should still sit sideways with their legs dangling off to one side so that it is more polite, because a husband-and-wife couples who are riding a motor vehicle do so in public.

"[According to] Islamic values this is very beautiful, everything is regulated properly. If [women] want to get close to their husbands, please go ahead and do it at home or inside a room, not in public. [Even] in front of their own children they arenít allowed to do things like that", he said.

As reported earlier, the Lhokseumawe municipal government plans to issue a regulation prohibiting women from sitting astride when being carried as a passenger by a man when travelling on a motorbike. Prior to enforcing the regulation, the mayor will issue a circular on the matter.

"To all the people of Lhokseumawe, we wish to advise you that we will be putting a regulation into effect, urueng inong watee ek honda hanjeut pheng (that women riding as passengers on motorbikes are not allowed to side astride)", said Lhokseumawe Mayor Yahya, when speaking at a religious event at the Hiraq Lhokseumawe Square to commemorate the new year on Monday evening, December 31.

[Soal Perempuan Tak Boleh Mengangkang Diboncengi Sepeda Motor, Ulama Dukung Wali Kota - Atjeh Post. Selasa, 01 Januari 2013.
Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service.]

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