Aceh introduced a version of sharia, or Islamic law, in 2009, after it gained autonomy from the government in a 2005 peace deal to end a long-running separatist war. Aceh’s laws regulate women’s dress and public morality, require shops and other places to close at prayer time, and are enforced by a special unit.
The law – criticised by some who believe it will make being a bike passenger unsafe – states that women are not allowed to straddle motorbikes unless it is an “emergency,” and are not allowed to hold on to the driver.
Suaidi Yahya, mayor of the city of Lhokseumawe, said that a ban was needed because the “curves of a woman’s body” are more visible when straddling a motorbike than when sitting sideways. He said: “Muslim women are not allowed to show their curves, it’s against Islamic teachings.”
Last week, home ministry officials told local media they would try to block the law because it was discriminatory.