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Ahh, the Indonesian porn bill. [Mar. 3rd, 2006|08:22 am]
You Are 84% Open Minded

You are so open minded that your brain may have fallen out!
Well, not really. But you may be confused on where you stand.
You don't have a judgemental bone in your body, and you're very accepting.
You enjoy the best of every life philosophy, even if you sometimes contradict yourself.

That's right, I kick major open-minded butt. Which means that I win prizes for being so cool and un-judgemental. I'm completely and totally bored in Journalism. Although this makes me laugh.

The naked truth on the misguided pornography bill

Pandaya, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

If you love sunbathing on Bali's beaches, you better keep your clothes on, unless you want to extend your stay on the island -- in Denpasar prison.

If you want to look sexy in your tank top or bare your belly button while shopping at the mall, think again -- you may end up in jail or bankrupt after having to pay a Rp 200 million (US$21,000) fine.

It's no joke. These things could happen if the controversial pornography bill now being deliberated by the House of Representatives is passed into law without changes.

Inul Daratista, Dewi Persik, Anisa Bahar and other dangdut singers would have to look for other jobs because the dance moves that catapulted them to stardom are considered "suggestive", amounting to "pornography". If they dare to dance, they could be subject to jail terms and hefty fines.

Javanese women have to hang up their kebaya, or blouses, for good because Article 79 of the bill mandates a Rp 200 million fine and a minimal jail term of two years for "showing off sensual parts of the female body", which include thighs, hips, breasts and navel. Imagine how many millions of women in Java, Bali and Sulawesi will be jailed and bankrupted.

What about Papuan women who, by tradition, do not cover their breasts, and Papuan men who hide their penises in sheaths?

The bill, which was submitted to the House in 1992 and only recently dusted off, is laughable. Pornography is loosely defined, provoking protests from artists, the press and more liberal-minded Indonesians. The bill, which in part is meant to protect women from sexual exploitation, ends up demonizing women as the cause of all sexual evils, compelling the state to force them to cover up. Mind you, the definition of "sensual body parts" does not really apply to men!

Any cultural displays and pieces of art judged to be "sensual" will not be tolerated unless displayed in places sanctioned by the government. What to do with the renowned Borobudur Temple, with its sensual reliefs, or the Sukuh fertility temple?

Writers who make up romantic stories and artists who draw nudes would soon be working out of prison after being jailed for disseminating pornography. Sitcom star Anjasmara, model Isabel Yahya, art curator Jim Supangkat, actor Agus Suwage and photographer Davy Linggar have already run afoul of the law for doing their jobs. They were named suspects over the display of "sensual" photographs at an exhibition in Jakarta after the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) filed a complaint.

The comedy continued with police raiding newsstands and VCD kiosks for "pornographic" materials.

Bali, the Hindu enclave whose lifeline is tourism, opposes the bill because of the effect it could have on tourism. They imagine ubiquitous moral police scaring away casually dressed holidaymakers from beaches, pubs and malls. A recent conference in the provincial capital Denpasar, which brought together Balinese from different professional backgrounds, agreed to file a petition demanding the bill be scrapped.

On the other side, many Muslim groups, represented by such organizations as the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the FPI and the Islamic Forum (FUI), believe an anti-indecency law is necessary to lift the country from the gutter of moral decay.

The MUI, set up during Soeharto's New Order regime to represent the interests of Muslims, went as far as giving lawmakers until June to finish the draft law, warning that Muslims would "take action" if the legislators failed to complete the law by the deadline.

The fierce opposition of the Balinese to the bill and the MUI's threat give credence to the fear the pornography bill will only widen the divide in the multicultural and multireligious Indonesia.

Never has a bill so divided our diverse society along cultural, religious and political lines as the one on pornography. The pressure tactics of certain groups, such as the ultimatum from the MUI, only exacerbate fears of open conflict.

Legislators deliberating the bill have tried to appease opponents by offering "exceptions"; for instance, allowing "erotic" artworks to be displayed, but only in venues sanctioned by the government, or offering looser interpretations of sensuality in areas where local tradition calls for it. But it is difficult to imagine a law with so many exceptions.

The pornography bill is a delicate issue and unless pornography is properly defined, the lawmakers will ultimately fail to improve the nation's moral standards. What they will do is worsen conflicts among citizens.

Many of the issues addressed in the bill are already covered by existing laws and the Criminal Code. The truth is that pornography, like many other social ills, is rampant because the laws are not properly enforced as corruption reigns supreme. The distribution and sale of "erotic" materials are not regulated. Raunchy tabloids are not stopped by the Press Law.

With the country campaigning to combat corruption, it would seem the bill on the protection of whistle-blowers is more urgent than the porn bill.