Aceh’s Morality Police (Wilayahtul Hisbah) have taken to hauling up women for wearing tight trousers. In one district, they plan to make women hand over their tight trousers and cut the offending attire up on the spot.
CLAD in dark jeans, a long-sleeved top and headscarf, Henny is exasperated.
“Why is it that it is always the woman’s body that is subject to this or that regulation? It’s a pity our freedom on how to dress is being taken away from us.
“And what about the men? What regulations do they have to shield their eyes?” she adds pointedly.
Henny who works at Beujroh, a woman’s NGO, believes that the focus on personal matters like a woman’s style of dressing is actually to take attention away from urgent issues like corruption.
Most would agree that Henny, who is covered from head to toe with only her face, hands and feet exposed, is dressed in proper attire for a Muslim woman.
But not, apparently, for the Wilayahtul Hisbah or “WH” (pronounced “wee ha”) – in short, the Acehnese Morality Police.
For them, Henny’s jeans – or for that matter any jeans for women – is a no-no. Jeans, they say, are “men’s clothing”.
So women in Aceh should only wear trousers made of non-jeans material and these have to be loose and not made of thin fabric.
Those wearing fitting trousers or tight tops can expect to be hauled up and scolded by the Morality Police.
In Meulaboh, West Aceh, it goes a step further.
From Jan 1, women caught wearing fitting trousers will be given long skirts (for free) by these Morality Squads and the “offending” trousers will be cut to pieces.