Sunday, April 27, 2008

Indonesia going conservative?

Indonesia going conservative

Even the ultra-liberals would resist the idea of non-restrictive copulation between adults; some one has to bear the consequences of such acts. They may silently and reluctantly accept it, but will not put a bill board to encourage others to participate in such an activity.

It is a wrong idea to assume that, it is the religion that restricts sex outside of marriage. Even if we do not have an organized religion, these rules would have evolved and become a part of a society. It becomes even more important to encourage responsibility given the STD’s, Pregnancies, and Caring for the children born out of irresponsibility, dependencies and abortion. One irresponsible act can produce a series of undesirable situations.

However, being conservative sounds like patriarchal, where some one wants to control how others behave, the re-evolving ‘conservatism’ in Indonesia is fraught with patriarchal attitudes, thanks God it is in the evolving state, it can be checked.

The idea of placing chastity lock assumes women are at fault; actually it is the men who initiate and beg for non-customary favors. By the way the same logic applies when men want to keep the women from the public eye. There was a time in history where the woman was required to die with the husband, and the kings used to put chastity locks on their wives when they went out conquering lands; such was the control exercised by the conservative, insecure men. It is time; we men grow up and feel confident in our relationships.

The laws should be based on treating humanity on an equal footing. No should be assumed to be superior or inferior. Qur'aan, "Men and Women are each others garments". Just as the garments shield one from the cold and heat, the metaphor encompasses every aspect of life including the vows; in happiness and sorrow, sickness and health, poverty or wealth, weakness or strength, difficulties and comforts, men and women are indeed each other's garment. No matter what faith or culture you follow, the essence of the vows is the same; justice. ( )

Immorality stems from social injustice, in this situation, the men assume that the women need money and they can trade services, the assumption is based on social injustice where one takes advantage of the other, which leads to other imbalances in the society and depriving the members from security, peace and prosperity.

I hope Indonesia re-evaluates the idea and initiates the programs where the root cause for such thinking is burned out and every individual to immorality is assigned equal responsibility.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, politics, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, India and civic issues. He is the founder of the World Muslim Congress, a group committed to building bridges and nurturing a world of co-existence. He also heads the foundation for pluralism, an organization committed to studying religious pluralism and pluralistic governance. His personal website is and his writings are on the above websites as well as several of the ancillary Blogs listed on the sites.
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Indonesia going conservative
Chastity belts open debate on Indonesia's growing conservatism
Massage parlor owners say they need to protect their workers. Critics say that's offensive to women.
April 27, 2008

JAKARTA, INDONESIA -- Chastity belts, which went out of fashion with knights in shining armor and damsels in distress, are making a comeback in the massage parlors of East Java.

In a bid to prevent any hanky-panky between masseuses and their clients, several massage parlors in the hill resort town of Batu are insisting that the women wear padlocks across the zippers of their work pants.

Franky Setiawan, owner of Doghado Massage Parlor, says he came up with the idea when men "bombarded" his staff with demands for sex after local authorities shut down the town's brothels. In recent years, conservative Islamic values have gained influence in a society that has long enjoyed liberal freedoms, such as easy access to alcohol, gambling and the sex trade.

"We had a hard time rejecting this kind of client because they try over and over and over again, persuading our workers with their dangerously sweet words," Setiawan said by phone this month from Batu, explaining that he wanted his 14 masseuses to feel safe and morally upstanding, while protecting the massage industry's image.

But Meutia Fardia Hatta Swasono, minister for women's empowerment in the world's most populous Muslim nation, calls the return of the chastity belt an affront to all women.

"It is not the right way to prevent promiscuity. It insults women as if they are the ones in the wrong," she told reporters this month. "It is not that we oppose the administration's effort to uphold morality, but the problem is their way of treating masseuses as if they're all committing prostitution."

A 27-year-old masseuse, who identified herself only as Sani, said she knew that padlocked pants came with the job at Setiawan's place when she joined 18 months ago, "so it's nothing special."

"We find it comfortable wearing them," said the mother of two children.

A clothing designer before getting into the massage business in 2000, Setiawan called on his garment-making skills to create his lockable uniform.

The chastity belts of Renaissance Europe were often bulky contraptions made of iron plates, maybe with the rough edges taken off by touches of velvet or leather. Setiawan wanted something much more minimalist.

"I considered the fashion trend when designing the uniform," he said.

He settled on black pants that zip up at the side, where a padlock is slipped through two cloth loops and snapped shut each time a masseuse meets a client.

The uniform includes a red blouse worn each day except Mondays and Fridays, the Muslim holy day, when his employees wear batik shirts. All of them have zippers up the back, which remain unlocked, Setiawan said.

He stores the padlocks and keys in a special box at the cashier's counter. When a customer arrives for a massage, given in a private room behind a curtain, the "cashier calls one masseuse, asks her to prepare things and locks her pants," Setiawan said. "Because the masseuse knows the drill, she usually pees before that. And when the client is done, the masseuse comes to the cashier, and the cashier opens the padlock."

Once in a while, Setiawan said, he checks once in a while to make sure no one lifts the keys to cut copies.

Locking up women's pants seemed such an elegant solution, Setiawan suggested that other massage parlor owners try it during a meeting of their association about two months ago, when the main item on the agenda was "how to handle some naughty guests."

At least four owners agreed to start dressing their masseuses in similar uniforms and padlocks, he said, and others plan to follow suit soon.

But local reports have portrayed the move as a government order. Municipal official Imam Suryono said, "This new policy is still in the form of a suggestion. But in the future, we expect this policy to be enacted as city legislation."

Putting women and their pants under lock and key has inflamed an already heated national debate over the government's role in enforcing morality and strikes many here as bureaucracy run amok.

Last month, Indonesia's parliament passed a bill that makes it a crime to look at violent or pornographic material on the Internet. The penalty is up to three years in prison.

News that massage parlors were clamping down on prostitution soon followed, and with all the publicity, Setiawan is suddenly losing customers. Many of them never knew that they were getting kneaded and soothed by securely fastened women because the padlocks were hidden beneath their long tops, he said.

"It's not because the padlocks, but because they are not comfortable with the journalists" poking around, he added.

The objections of Swasono, the women's empowerment minister, were echoed on the editorial pages of the Jakarta Post, where the majority of 26 reader comments published one day this month ridiculed locking up women's pants.

Some called it a throwback to the Middle Ages, or even the Stone Age. Calling for fair treatment, one said, "The customers' hands should be chained too to prevent them from sexually harassing the masseuse."

Another suggested that modern technology offered a better solution: monitoring the women and their clients by closed-circuit TV.

Amid news that officials in the capital, Jakarta, were weighing the padlock option for its massage parlors, a Post reader wrote, "Jakarta should consider locking up the hands of politicians to prevent corrupt officials from taking bribes."

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.