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Indonesian mayor orders curfew for women in Aceh’s capital

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) — The capital of Indonesia’s devout Aceh province has imposed a partial curfew for women that it says will reduce sexual violence but which critics say is discriminatory.

Banda Aceh Mayor Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal ordered venues including restaurants, sport centers, Internet cafes and tourist attractions to not serve women after 11 p.m. unless accompanied by their husbands or other male family members.

The directive, dated June 4, also prohibits women from working in such establishments after 11 p.m.

Aceh hews to fundamentalism more so than other areas in the Muslim-majority nation, and Indonesia’s secular central government granted it the right to implement a version of Shariah law in 2006 as part of a peace deal to end a separatist war. A religious police and court system have been established and the new restrictions on women are a further strengthening of Sharia in the province.

Last year, Aceh lawmakers passed a law that punishes gay sex by public caning and subjects non-Muslims to strict interpretation of Sharia. People convicted of gambling, adultery and drinking alcohol already face caning, as do women wearing tight jeans and people who skip Friday prayers.

Ninik Rahayu from the Indonesian Institute for Empowerment of Women and Children said Tuesday that the directive is discriminatory and contrary to Indonesia’s constitution. She said the policy shows the inability of the local government to provide adequate protection for residents.

The directive also prohibits children from being at public places unaccompanied after 10 p.m.

Djamal said employing women until late at night constitutes exploitation and makes them vulnerable to sexual harassment.

“We have studied the matter thoroughly and this is in line with the labor laws,” Djamal said. “Our aim is to protect women employees, especially those working at entertainment spots.”

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