Sharia in Aceh, a mural in Sydney

Aceh is officially a horrible place to be a woman.

In Aceh today, it is a crime for two mature people of different sexes who are not married or related by blood to be together in an isolated place.

Ponder that carefully to see just how ridiculous and stultifying it is. Even if those two people have sex, that shouldn’t be a crime, The idea that they can’t even interact without a chaperone is a recipe for culture-wide idiocy.

In the course of their investigations, WH officials say, they sometimes force women and girls to submit to virginity exams, and in some cases, condition suspects’ release on their agreement to marry. Both practices violate international human rights law.

Forcing women and girls to submit to virginity exams is rape. Period. There’s no other word for it. Aceh makes adult interaction a crime and rape a tool of law enforcement.

Another Acehnese law requires that all Muslims in Aceh wear Islamic attire, defined as clothing that covers the aurat (for men, the area of the body from the knee to navel, and for women, the entire body with the exception of the hands, feet, and face)…

Which is all we need to know. Men are required to wear clothes between the waist and the knees, women are required to wear clothes all over apart from the face and hands. In a tropical climate.

Yet the Sydney Morning Herald (for one) sees the issue as one of women’s right to wear clothes all over as opposed to their right not to.

It has 

become a lightning rod in the public debate about the right of Muslim women to wear the burqa, attracting protests, the censure of a mayor and messages of support from talkback radio.But now the Newtown mural of a woman in a full-face Muslim covering with a strike symbol over her face and the words ”Say No to the Burqa” is the subject of an anti-discrimination complaint.

Which is more fundamental? The right to wear a tent with a narrow slit for the eyes? Or the right not to? The right to frame the tent with a narrow slit for the eyes as a deprivation of rights, or the right to silence that framing? Which should trump which?

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