JAKARTA, June 9 (UPI) -- Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia's predominantly Muslim Aceh province, has imposed an 11 p.m. curfew on women who work in sports and entertainment locations with the hopes of preventing new crimes.
Businesses who do not respect the curfew could lose their licenses, but women will not be punished for breaking the curfew -- instead being asked to go home and given a warning. Women in professions such as nursing are exempt from the curfew.
Sexual harassment is higher in Aceh than in any other Indonesian province, according to a study by the Kita dan Buah Hati family foundation.
"Women in Aceh are vulnerable to sexual harassment so we want to protect them from untoward incidents," Banda Aceh mayor Illiza Sa'aduddin Djamal said. Unless accompanied by a male relative, women and children are advised not to be such locales after 10 p.m.
In the early 2000s, Government officials in Indonesia signed a peace agreement with separatist in Aceh, ending decades of armed conflict in which about 15,000 people have died and making Aceh partly autonomous. Sharia law was imposed in Aceh, where drinking, gambling and mingling with the opposite sex are banned and punishable by caning.
Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla urged Banda Aceh officials to review the curfew decision.
"Of course Aceh has its authority in dealing with its domestic affairs under the Special Autonomy Law. But what is the urgency to impose the curfew?" Kalla said on Monday. "We cannot just assume that women encounter trouble at night. This assumption should be taken into consideration. Acehnese society has to be smart in managing itself and it should be wise in managing this."