Lawmakers in a town in Indonesia have put forward new legislation that would ban women from straddling motorcycles when riding pillion behind a male rider. Women in Lhokseumawe city will still be allowed to straddle a motorcycle when she is the operator, but otherwise they will have to ride sidesaddle.

Lhokseumawe is a town in Aceh, a predominantly Muslim region of Indonesia that has in recently years has been implementing strict Sharia law. Officials say the new law will protect women from provoking male riders with their body positioning.

“Women sitting on motorbikes must not sit astride because it will provoke the male driver. It’s also to protect women from an undesirable condition,” Mayor Suaidi Yahya told AFP. “It’s improper for women to sit astride. We implement Islamic law here.”

Representatives from women’s groups are understandably against the new laws.

“We, the women of Lhokseumawe, strongly oppose this very discriminative regulation because it ignores the rights of women in conducting their daily activities,” says Safwani, the executive director of Ranup Women Institute tells the Jakarta Globe.

Safwani says the mayor should be focused on much more urgent matters including garbage disposal and stopping livestock from walking around uncontrolled on city streets.

“When you think of it, the cleanliness of the city is also in line with Islamic Shariah,” Safwani says.

[Source: AFP, Jakarta Globe]