On Indonesian Playboy

Cartoons are not the only thing that’s being protested these days in the Muslim world. Pornography in Indonesia is another example of a clash of cultures, morals and ideals between the western and eastern civilizations.

News that the raunchy Playboy magazine has signed a deal to produce a local edition has fuelled the controversy.

Parliament is expected to pass a new anti-pornography bill by the middle of this year but the draft legislation is proving divisive.

A series of demonstrations has taken place in the capital, Jakarta, in support of the tightening of the laws.

The head of the parliamentary committee which drafted the new legislation, Balkan Kaplale, said Indonesia was in a state of moral decline. “These are Indonesian magazines,” Mr Kaplale said, spreading a selection of pornographic tabloids across the table.

“It is terrible, our poor country. We are a religious people but now Indonesia is third worst in the world for porn after Scandinavia and Russia.

“It is so easily available and it is going unchecked. That is why we need this law,” he said.

For some reason, banning something usually makes the demand for it increase. If Playboy launches in Indonesia, it’s going to be a huge success.

I think Jordan does have anti-porn laws some place some where. But you don’t get blocked websites or religious police knocking on your door. So the law is as good as banning air. I do think they stop pornographic material at customs, I’ve heard of something like that but I can’t be sure.

back to the article…

In a narrow, busy alleyway in Jakarta’s Chinatown, there are stalls selling pirated DVDs.

In front of most of the stalls there is a cardboard box where the pornographic films are kept.

The DVDs are openly displayed – it is pretty graphic stuff.

Few people in Indonesia would argue against the need to control the sale of such material. And yet the proposed anti-pornography bill has come up against strong opposition.

The draft document includes articles which would make it an offence to show what it calls sensual body parts, including the navel, hips and thighs.

Those found guilty of breaking the law could face a two-year jail sentence.

This reminds me of Jordan when I go to buy a “dvd” movie from one of those street vendors and the guy will whisper or nudge me and ask if I’m interested in pornos. This is usually followed by a very awkward moment. But that’s the price you pay for buying a 2 Dollar copy of War of the Worlds.

Husna Mulya, a women’s rights activist, said the anti-pornography law had been hijacked by groups pushing a hardline conservative agenda.

“The people behind this are using religious values to make their argument, especially Muslim groups. It is not stated in the bill, but the standard being used is the standard of Sharia law.

“They say people are not dressing in line with Indonesian culture. But the fashion in Indonesia now is to wear trousers that are tight around the hips, and even traditional clothes are often designed to show off a woman’s breasts,” she said.

I think this may be true of the recent flood of protests over the Danish cartoons. I found it amazing how messages and pamphlets were dissiminated so quickely by local groups after the cartoons emerged. Even stranger is the fact that not all protests were violent, some were quite peaceful like the ones which took place in Jordan this past week. So it’s possible to assume that there are hardliner groups exploiting the anger and are somewhere in the maddening crowd, inspiring it or leading it.

p.s. i actually did look up www.playboy.go.to_hell as was printed on the poster in the image above, but i got nuttin.


  • On a side note but regarding the same issue, we walked in on one of our lab instructors to get something from his PC and while doing so he had these small windows all piled up that started poping up all of a sudden, all disgusting pictures. It was one of the most awkward moments. He didnt care to apologize or to say anything, he didnt even seem embaressed.

    And that was in our University, so people will get to what they want inspite of the social unwritten rules and laws.How worse can it get? in one of the best universities of Jordan?

  • Ohoud, that’s very disgusting … couldn’t he at least wait to get home!

    Nas, control of the sale of magazines like playboy is something I personally wont argue against … however, the way I see it is that if people want to see this type of material, they will find ways to.

    p.s., try adding .com at the end :p … umm, actually I don’t think you were supposed to get anything! :d

  • Ohoud, loool the same thing happened with a computer teacher during my high school days in amman.

    Iman, yes i agree, they will find a way. although we have to consider that if no one at the playboy mansion had ever stood up and said “hey! lets put playboy in indonesia!” then it wouldnt be on everyones mind. its like telling someone not to think of something. while porn is probably easil accessible in the country im guessing the interests have spiked lately over this controversy.

    p.s. yeah i know but i thought it was a clever poster and figured they had something tangible to back it up 😀

  • We DON’T need to see white westerners in our porn, we only want to see nice brown woman. No Whites for us!!!

  • well.I have seen the same photo on a famous newspaper in my country today,the photo seems to be rather hot these days.haha
    i just can’t imagine how can those muslim officers be so conservative,and the anti-porn law they want to pass is so ridiculous.

  • I think I’ll save this story so that the next time some idiot in the US gov’t says, “Gee, why don’t they like us?” I can email it to them.
    While I abhor censorship in any form (it is just another form of ineffective prohibition), cramming Western attitudes and images (even chaste ones) is just another form of Coca-Cola imperialism.
    As futile as it may seem at times, reaching out to and teaching men that pornography cheapens and denigrates all women seems to me to be a much greater and more effective way of dealing with it than censorship.
    In the US the struggle against porn has led to a strange alliance between feminists and neo-cons but only a fool would belive that the right-wingers are doing this out of concern for women’s rights.
    Like all zealots, they believe that they know what is best and they are using this as an avenue for greater control in all elements of society.

    On behalf of all Americans who believe in respecting others’ right to their own culture and beliefs, I apologize.


Your Two Piasters: