Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Sharia policewoman addresses women dressed in tight jeans during a street inspection in Banda Aceh. Photo by Anuj Chopra

On Patrol With Sharia Policewomen

By Anuj Chopra

BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - The girls are outmanoeuvered.

Out of nowhere, a group of policewomen in olive-green uniforms, swoop in and flag down their motorcycle. "Where are you going?" one asks, inspecting their identity cards.

"To the university," the girls reply demurely. "Dressed like that?" she thunders. "That's not how a Muslim should dress. If you wear clothes like that, you will burn in hell!"

There is a deer-in-the-headlights moment. The girls, both teenagers, freeze in shamefaced silence. Both of them are wearing headscarves and dressed in nothing skimpy. But they still flout Aceh's dress code: both are wearing skin-tight, hip-hugging jeans, a big taboo in the eyes of Aceh's Sharia police. ...


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