Mandating How Women Ride Motorbikes

In many countries, women are still subjected to laws that endanger their freedom as well as their lives.

In Indonesia, a law has been proposed in Lhokseumawe, in the province of Aceh, Sumatra, in which women are being forced to change how they ride motorbikes. Motor bikes are widely used as transportation by both men and women, but the mode of riding by women has sparked some controversy. Local leaders are trying to pass a law whereby women would be prohibited from straddling motorbikes or holding on to the drivers. According to the mayor of Lhokseumawe, the reason for this ban is to protect the women by following Islamic law. While this is the only town that seems to plan on exerting this ban, it has come under great scrutiny for its severity.

While most of the people in Indonesia are Muslims, those living in the Aceh province are being used as examples, by carrying out this ban. According to Destika Gilang, coordinator of the government’s Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, “it’s discrimination, it objectifies women” with regard to the proposed law. Women outside of Aceh believe that mandating women to ride motorbikes a certain way takes away their choice to ride the way they have for years. Aside from the fact that what this law is proposing is dangerous for the driver as well as the passenger, it dismisses the real problem of equality.

Women in so many countries have been fighting to be treated equally for years, and the idea that this proposed law would be passed is a threat to the future of women’s equality Lhokseumawe, or even all of Indonesia.

As an outsider, it’s hard to understand the rationale behind this law. Is passing this law really about protection of Indonesian women or just another means to suppress women’s rights? Will this ban create a domino effect and result in further laws regulating women’s actions, eventually eliminating their rights altogether? This is what concerns me as a woman. While I am not Indonesian nor Muslim, I believe that any laws that suppress women’s rights should not be considered, let alone passed. Women everywhere are fighting for their rights on a daily basis and mandating a ban that would be more harmful to their safety is unjustified. Here’s hoping that the women and men living in other parts of Indonesia will fight this ban and maintain their rights for equality. That’s my view on this, what’s yours?

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