Men and women forbidden to dine together

dine together

Men and women in the Indonesian province of Aceh are no longer allowed to dine together unless they are married or related.

Under the latest regulation in Bireuën district on Sumatra island, men and women will not be able to dine together at restaurants and coffee shops unless they are accompanied by their husband or a close male relative.

Co-workers on their lunch break will also be forbidden from sharing a meal.

“The objective is to protect women’s dignity so they will feel more comfortable, more at ease, more well behaved and will not do anything that violates sharia (Islamic law),” the head of the local sharia office Jufliwan told AFP on Wednesday.

The directive was sent to coffee shops, cafes and restaurants throughout the region.

It also stated that women would not be allowed to visit such establishments past 9pm unless they are accompanied by a spouse or a male relative.

“However, we can’t punish them as this is only a suggestion, not a regulation that carries a punishment,” Jufliwan said.

It will be up to restaurateurs to enforce the regulation.

Three years ago the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, banned unaccompanied women from entertainment venues including cafes and sports halls after 11pm.

Sharia in Aceh has been controversial ever since it was first introduced shortly after the downfall of Soeharto in 1998.

Jakarta was struggling to cope with an armed insurgency in the province.

Aceh, a region of Sumatra island, is the only place that follows Islamic law in Muslim-majority Indonesia.

It has attracted worldwide condemnation for publicly lashing people convicted of a variety of crimes including homosexuality, gambling and alcohol consumption.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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