Indonesias New Criminal Code Bans Premarital Sex, Adultery, Insulting President & Much More, Triggers Reactions Across World

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Indonesia's New Criminal Code Bans Premarital Sex, Adultery, Insulting President & Much More, Triggers Reactions Across World

Besides moral policing and governing women’s bodies, the new criminal code, which will not come into effect for another three years at least, also curtails freedom of speech with grave punishments for speaking against the president or official government policies.

Despite opposition from critics and human-rights activists, many new and controversial regulations have been introduced under Indonesia's new criminal code, such as forbidding sex before marriage, disparaging the president, and expressing opinions that oppose official government policy. The newly enacted criminal code has 624 articles and 37 chapters and is expected to come into effect at least three years after the law's passage in 2025.

Controversial Code Termed Regressive

Many civil rights activists across the world are furious with the new law, which stipulates that criticising public officials and state organisations can result in a prison term of up to five years or a hefty fine or both. Meanwhile, women's rights advocates have also expressed concern that the new criminal law may restrict access to reproductive healthcare and be applied to criminalise sexual assault victims.

Moreover, in what is being termed a regressive law, sex outside of marriage can result in a year in jail, whereas living together is punishable by six months of imprisonment. Adultery charges will ve punishable too, however, the complaint can only be filed by the spouse, parents or children of the "accused". The new criminal code also punishes those promoting contraception, thus raising several concerns about the government's autonomy on women's bodies. Additionally, laws against blasphemy have expanded from one to six provisions in the muslim-majority country, reported CNN.

World Unhappy With New Criminal Code

The laws are criticised as a disaster for human rights and a possible hindrance to tourism in the country. Primarily many young people demonstrated against the legislation in front of the Jakarta parliament building. The new laws are also expected to face legal challenges once formalised.

Elaine Pearson, the director of Human Rights Watch in Asia, told the BBC that it was a major setback for a country that has tried to depict itself as a modern Muslim democracy. The UN Human Rights Council also tweeted regarding the adverse impacts of the new law.

A Jakarta-based advocate for women's rights named Naila Rizqi claimed that the new code would place women under pressure to keep public morals. She stated that women's morals would be discussed while talking about public morality, and women and women's bodies will be governed.

Taffi Hensan, a member of the Student Executive Board at the University of Indonesia, expressed -grave concern regarding sections of the penal code that forbid the propagation of views that oppose "Pancasila," the country's official ideology. Hensan claimed that he is highly concerned about the law's 10-year prison sentence for promoting ideologies such as Marxism and Communism that are against Pancasila.

Indonesia's Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly defended the bill's passage in parliament on Tuesday, saying that it's not easy for a multicultural and multiethnic society to develop a criminal code that can suit all interests.

While the criminal code will not come into effect until 2025 at least, human rights activists across the world have expressed their dissent and are ready to challenge the law once it is formally passed in the parliament.

Also Read: First G20 Religion Forum Held In Indonesia, Aims To Quell Ideas of Radical Islam

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