Stop Treating Woman As Object

Manokwari is a regency where Christians are the majority, which has finalized a draft regional ordinance base on the Bible that forbide people from wearing Moslem headscarvesin public. On the other hand regency in Indonesia require people to wear clothing deemed Islamic.

Since a long time ago woman’s bodies have been center of a public debate over what is right or wrong, good or bad for society and public morality. This currently in Aceh Darussalam which applies Syariah law and obliges people to wear Islamic clothing, specially jilbab for woman.

In Manokwari if the draft is approved the reverse occur. When sanction are applied, women become the first target as is the case in of Aceh, and possibly in Manokwari though for different reasons.

It is clear that whatever the regulation, woman are· the victims of the dominant ideologies accommodated in public policies that adopt strong and what is regarded good or bad for them is not determined by the woman themselves but the higher authorities

Why this does happen? This because woman are viewed as no more than object. Aquarini P. Prabosmo states: in patriarchal culture, a woman’s body is perceived as object of sight, touch, sexual, men’s lust and ideology. Generally women are perceived as object and object literally mean receiver action.

Unlike woman, men are not object, but subject. More over a man’s body is not “battlefield” where people different ideologies explore it is medium to determine what is deemed good or bad, right or wrong. As a result men are not in as difficult position as woman. Who have to bear the impact of what ever policies target them. Woman physical appearance often becomes a basis to judge, if not to “criminalize” them.

People of a11 faiths should be free to exercise or not exercise their religion, including wear or not wear religious attire. More than just physical appearance we can not judge one’s religious devotion and morality from what he/she is wearing. In the case of the woman, why not let woman decide what is best for them. Because they are not merely objects. More over woman’s bodies belong to them, not to local government or the state.

Source: The Jakarta Post, Friday, April 13, 2007

Presented at MAKES, April 21, 2007

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