Keep your kisses short in Tangerang
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Unrelated people who kiss each other on the lips for more than five minutes at public places in the Indonesian city of Tangerang will face arrest, local media said Friday. The government in Tangerang, a suburb west of Jakarta, defended the regulation as a practical guideline for its officers to follow up on tough and heavily criticized anti-prostitution laws passed by the city council last year.
“Please do not dramatize this. We will not arrest people at will as we are not oppressors,” Ahmad Lutfi, head of the city’s public order department, told the Koran Tempo newspaper. Lutfi declined to comment on whether officers would be armed with stopwatches, Tempo reported. It was not clear if the guideline referred to an uninterrupted five-minute kiss. Kissing in public is generally frowned upon in Indonesia, especially in rural, predominantly Muslim areas, but giving a time limit for such behavior is unheard of.
Around 85 percent of Indonesia’s 220 million people follow Islam, giving the sprawling archipelago the largest number of Muslims of any country. Although most are moderates, there is a growing tendency toward showing Islamic identity and conservative attitudes. That backdrop, along with the recent devolution of power to regional governments, has given several regions space to create tighter rules on morality.
The new anti-prostitution laws in Tangerang, a city of more than one million, sparked complaints from liberals in February after a female restaurant worker waiting for her husband on a street at night was picked up because police officers thought she was a prostitute.
At the national level, draft legislation addressing pornography issues has been circulating for years in parliament and debate on it is reaching a peak. The original draft proposed a ban on public kissing on the lips but it is unclear whether the particular article will survive in the final version.
(REUTERS, April 07, 2006)
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