National

154 bylaws haunt women,
15 more to come

The government's tardy response to a recommendation to revoke 154 discriminative bylaws against women have paved the way for the deliberation of 15 new equally discriminative bylaws, the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) said Friday.

The commission voiced the recommendation last year but the government has failed to act, Ninik Rahayu, a coordinator at the commission, said. The recommendation was reiterated by the commission in August last year, as one among eight priority agendas that must be followed up by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration within his 100-days program.

The bylaws, implemented in seven provinces and 16 regencies, contain rules on clothing, morality and religion, migrant workers and the criminalization of women, Ninik went on. Some oblige Muslim women to be veiled while others prohibit women from leaving their houses after 9 p.m. without being accompanied by her muhrim (lawful spouse or male relative). Aceh, Banten, Gorontalo, Central Java, West Java, East Java and West Nusa Tenggara are the provinces with discriminative regulations.

Ninik said Komnas' monitoring found that at least 15 new bylaw drafts containing discriminative articles were being deliberated.

"Therefore, we reiterate our recommendation to the President to prevent the birth of more discriminative bylaws that may violate women's constitutional rights as well as revoke the existing 154 discriminative policies," Ninik said as quoted by Antara news agency.

Komnas has argued that such discriminative bylaws violate the 1999 Law Human Rights Law and the 1984 law that ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw).

Both laws contain articles stipulating that limitation, excommunication, favoritism, harassment and neglect, direct or indirect, based on one's gender are forms of discrimination.

She said the Home Affairs Ministry revoked 714 bylaws but all were related to regional taxation.

Ninik said the country's Middle-Term Development Plan included synchronizing national laws and regional laws, but it seemed the government had failed to do so.

Ninik was speaking at a meeting to evaluate the achievement of Yu-dhoyono's second term after its first 100 days.

"We appreciate what the administration has done toward the agenda *on women*. But we haven't seen any significant efforts related to the eight priority agendas fulfilling women's constitutional rights that we put forward earlier," Ninik said.

Another of Komnas' recommendations was the issuance of a legal basis for a permanent working group on gender mainstreaming in education centers at the regency or municipality level.

The past 100 days have also failed to see any improvement in the fate of the Lapindo mud victims, including women, she said.

Komnas' eight recommendations:

The President must revoke discriminative policies that violate citizens' constitutional rights

The President should draft a grand design of the national legal politics to ensure constitutional rights at all levels of government.

Issue a presidential decree as a legal basis for a permanent working group on gender mainstreaming in education.

Accelerate agrarian reform and push for natural resource management that gives control to the people.

Instruct ambassadors to build integrated service facilities for Indonesian workers overseas.

Fulfill the rights of Lapindo mud victims, especially the women and children.

The President should lead the people to learn a lesson from their past to avoid human rights violations.

The President, as the head of the state, should apologize to victims of human rights violations and their families and resolve past violations.

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