Acehnese women demand equal opportunities in local elections

Kompas – June 11, 2005
Women protesters gather in front of Aceh DPRD (News Status Aceh)
Women protesters gather in front of Aceh DPRD (News Status Aceh)

Banda Aceh – At least 35 women academics, legal practitioners, activists and students visited the Aceh Provincial Legislative Council (DPRD) at midday on Friday June 10. They were asking for revisions to be made to the government regulation (Pilkada) or Qanun on the election of regional government heads before it comes into law on Saturday because the law eliminates the chance for Acehnese women to be candidates.

“We want the Qanun on the election of regional heads not to eliminate women’s right to be candidates for regional heads. There are at least three articles that must be amended”, said Suraiya, an activist with Indonesian Flower in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh.

The concern is over Article 41, Paragraph 1, which reads “In order to be able to be elected in an election, each person had the right to vote, nominate themselves as an independent candidate, a candidate for a political party, to be nominated by a political party or a coalition of political parties”. Women are demanding that the DPRD add the words women and men into the article.

Then Article 41, Paragraph 2, which reads “[Candidates must be] able to administer Islamic law, able to read the holy Quran and able to become a leader of communal prayer and preacher at a mosque”. They oppose this article because under Islamic Law women are not allowed to become leaders of communal prayer or preachers. “We are demanding that the DPRD insert a sentence for men and women after the word Al Quran and a sentence for men after leader of communal prayers”, said another activist, Annisa.

Activists during a dialogue raised this issue with Deputy Speaker of the Aceh DPRD, Waisul Qarany Aly, Mukhlis Mukhtar from Reform Star Party fraction, Jamaluddin T Muku from the Democratic Party fraction and Gade Salam fraction of the United Development Party fraction. Aly explained however, that in discussions over revisions to the Qanun on regional elections changes had been made to articles that are bias against women.

“We have already simplified the contents of Article 41 Paragraph 1 so it is able to accommodate Islamic law. So, anyone can participant in the regional elections”, said Aly. (ham/anv)

[Translated by Risna.]