Porn Censorship in Indonesia

A front for the implementation of shariah

17th September

Update: Inciting Censorial Desire...


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Indonesian Sharia anti-porn bill resurfaces

An anti-pornography bill which is before the Indonesian Parliament may hurt tourism on the island of Bali, some officials have claimed.

The bill, currently in draft form in the House of Representatives, defines pornography as acts that incite sexual desire.

The repressive legislation defines pornography as sexual materials in the form of drawings, sketches, illustrations, photographs, text, sound, moving pictures, animation, cartoons, poetry, conversations or any other form of communicative messages.

But some say the legislation could go as far as jailing people for kissing in public.

Experts see the bill as contentious, because traditional dress in Bali and the sparse clothing and swimwear worn by tourists, could be viewed as pornographic under the legislation.

The island's tourism will clearly suffer should the house pass the bill, said Ngurah Wijaya, head of the Bali Tourism Board.

Bagus Sudibya, a tourism expert, acknowledged the moral stance behind the bill's inception, but warned against hidden agendas in the process to pass it into law. Bagus said the bill should focus on defining explicit pornography designed to arouse sexual desire or exploit women, and not condemn artwork depicting nudity: Many of Bali's trademark attractions are in close connection with its arts, which occasionally depicts women in the nude .

Last Friday, an Indonesian Islamic party, the Prosperous Justice Party said the anti-pornography bill could be a Ramadan present" for Muslims.

The draft bill has been before the Parliament for three years and there is speculation that it may be passed in a few weeks.


31st October

Update: Anti-Porn Bill Passed...

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Indonesia's parliament has passed an anti-pornography law despite furious opposition to it.

Islamic parties said the law was needed to protect women and children against exploitation and to curb increasing immorality in Indonesian society.

The law would ban images, gestures or talk deemed to be pornographic.

Artists, women's groups and non-Muslim minorities said they could be victimised under the law and that traditional practices could be banned.

The law has prompted protests across Indonesia, but particularly on the predominantly Hindu island of Bali - a favourite destination for tourists.

Critics particularly do not like a provision in the bill that would allow members of the public to participate in preventing the spread of obscenity. We're worried it will be used by hard-liners who say they want to control morality, Baby Jim Aditya, a women's rights activist, told Associated Press news agency.

This law will ensure that Islam is preserved and guaranteed, said Hakim Sori Muda Borhan, a member of parliament from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party.

The bill must be signed by the president before it comes into effect.

Violators face up to 12 years in prison and hefty fines.


24th January

Updated: No Fun in Indonesia...

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Exotic dancers arrested in Indonesia under the repressive anti-porn law

Indonesian authorities will prosecute four exotic dancers arrested at clubs on New Year's Eve for allegedly violating a new anti-pornography law, a police spokesman has said.

The female dancers and two male club managers were detained in the city of Bandung said West Java provincial police spokesman Col. Dade Ahmad. They appeared to have been preparing for a striptease and were wearing sexy clothing, Ahmad said, when the police raided the Bellair Cafe and the Music Lounge after midnight.

Indonesia's 2008 anti-pornography law was pushed through parliament by conservative Muslim parties, but opposed by rights groups that argue it criminalizes traditional dance and art, particularly in far flung provinces where partial nudity is culturally accepted.

Ahmad said that they could be sentenced to prison terms of five to 10 years if convicted. Ahmad said the six will be the first people prosecuted under the law in Bandung.

Bandung Mayor Dada Rosada said he was also considering revoking the cafes' operating permits.

Update: Empty Tables at the Belair Cafe

24th January 2010. Based on article from

The arrest of four women for sexy dancing during a Hogmanay party in Bandung has raised worries this may be the prelude to wider Islamist restrictions in Indonesia. The women, as well as a manager and event organiser, could become the first people charged under a one-year-old anti-pornography law banning public displays of naked flesh.

The law was brought in with the backing of the small but influential Islamist political parties in the country. Critics said the parties' real intention was to use the law to spread fundamentalist Islam to control artistic and cultural expression in a multicultural society. The law, they warned, threatens pre-Islamic cultures, which have long co-existed with moderate Islam.

Hafizh Utsman, leader of the West Java branch of the Indonesian Ulama Council, the leading clerical organisation, is pleased with Islam's growing influence in Bandung, and would like to see a more widespread crackdown: We are trying to eliminate the non-Islamic parts of West Java's traditional culture, to make it more Islamic, Utsman boasted. For example, he said that participants at weddings are urged to celebrate by reciting Koranic verses, not by dancing, as is the custom.

Though a couple of weeks have passed since the arrests, it was still not clear what happened at Belair, which showcased bikini-clad women dancing on a bar counter.

Arman Achdiat, the Bandung police chief of detectives, said the authorities had received complaints, via text messages, that the dancers had gone beyond bikini dancing and offered customers flashes of full nudity. This happened at private table dances, said Achdiat, declining to say whether investigators caught the dancers in the act.

Holding a copy of the anti-pornography law, Achdiat said more questioning of the dancers was needed to determine whether to charge them under the criminal law or the more severe anti-pornography law, which entails punishment of up to 10 years in prison for the dancers and 15 years for the manager and organiser.

Clubs such as Belair came to Saritem in Bandung more than a decade ago, and about 10 now offer what is known here as sexy dancing, often featuring some nudity, said Budi Rajab, a sociologist and expert on Bandung at the local Padjadjaran University.

The crackdown seems to be working and Saritem's business has yet to recover fully. On a recent evening there were few customers in the district's warren of narrow streets, where family-owned brothels employed young women from rural Java. A lot of people think Saritem is still closed, or they're afraid to come, said Rully, whose family has worked in Saritem for four generations.

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