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Jakarta Post

Fighting fundamentalism with her mighty pen

  • Belinda Lopez

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, April 27 2008   /  12:48 pm

Laksmi Pamuntjak can tell you exactly where she was on April 22, 2006. As she tells it, on the day after founding feminist Kartini's birthday, a 6,000-strong carnivale of cultures from Aceh, Bali, Java and Papua, of Batak, Betawi, Dayak and Minahasa, met at Monas to face an anti-pornography bill that they felt was trying to hijack the very essence of Indonesia's Pancasila, of its tolerance of difference. It "smelt like a gas", aimed at women, she says. Just over two years later, despite witnessing the thousands of students, activists, transvestites, religious figures, feminists, families, artists and ordinary people who marched that day and saw the bill watered down, Laksmi is still worried about the "Islamic hardliners'" agenda. This weekend she is in Australia to read verse infused with sexuality, and life, and the intermingling of the two....