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Indonesia: Blasphemy law violates women’s rights

Monday 19 April 2010, by siawi2

Source: The Jakarta Post, Tuesday, April 20, 2010 04:05 AM

The law on blasphemy tramples on the rights of women, the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) testified Friday in the judicial review of the 1965 law.
Commission chairwoman Yunianti Chuzzifah told the Constitutional Court her organization had received several reports from women who had been discriminated against because they were followers of religious sects and traditional beliefs not officially recognized by the government.
“The implementation of the 1965 Blasphemy Law ... violates women’s constitutional right not to be discriminated against,†Yunianti said.
“Female members of some faiths and beliefs that aren’t recognized by the state can’t obtain an ID card unless they list one of the official religions [on the ID], which is done against their will.â€
The commission testified in the review as a related party.

The Constitutional Court has so far held seven hearing in the review, filed by petitioners from NGOs and self-proclaimed supporters of pluralism in October last year.
Yunianti said many women from these unrecognized faiths had also been deprived of the right to a registered marriage.
“Children borne from the union are denied birth certificates because the mother isn’t considered an individual before the law,†she said.
“As the result, the children are denied the right to an education, or worse, suffer the stigma of being labeled illegitimate children.â€
Such a situation, she added, clearly violated children’s right to grow and be free from violence and discrimination.

Yunianti cited cases of women from the Ahmadiyah sect bringing their case to her commission to tell of the hardship they endured with every attack on the group.
“They reported of being threatened with rape, and of being sexually harassed during attacks and when they took refuge,†she said.
“They also told of being fired from their jobs as teachers, and of their children getting second-class treatment from teachers.â€
Her testimony was met with loud jeers from the gallery, mostly members of hard-line Islamic groups.

The Ahmadiyah are deemed heretics by mainstream Muslims for recognizing sect founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as a prophet.
Islamic teaching holds up Muhammad as the final prophet.
For years, Ahmadis have suffered attacks from various hard-line Muslim groups, including the fire-bombing of their mosques and homes.
Also testifying Wednesday was Jakarta Interfaith Communication Forum chairman Ahmad Syafi’i Mufid, who said that even in democracies, human rights and freedom of religion had their boundaries.

“One’s freedom to embrace a religion or belief is limited by the law, which prevails to maintain security, order, health and public morality, and to protect other people’s basic rights and freedom,†he said.
He called on the court to dismiss the review of the law, adding that if it were revised, the government must immediately issue a regulation-in-lieu-of-law of greater clarity and detail “so as to avoid misinterpretation which could lead to chaos and vigilantism†.

Culture analyst Emha Ainun Nadjib, testifying as an expert witness, said rescinding or retaining the law could both prove dangerous.
“If the law is repealed, it will create new conflicts and generate hatred,†he said. “But if it’s retained, there will always be anxiety.â€
He added he would not recommend either choice unless “all of us pledge not to threaten one another†.