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Women, gendered activism and Indonesia's anti-pornography bill

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-26, 11:11 authored by Pamela AllenPamela Allen
Commonly known by its acronym RUU-APP, Indonesia's controversial anti-pornography bill is still under consideration by parliament, five years after being introduced there. This article is an updated version of my earlier article 'Challenging diversity?: Indonesia's antipornography bill,'[1] which comprised a broad discussion of responses to the bill by women, artists and minority ethnic groups in Indonesia. In the present article I focus on and amplify the responses to the bill by women from across the spectrum of Indonesian society. I draw on media reports and secondary sources that have documented responses by women and women's organisations to the bill. My analysis is contextualised within a broader discussion of the impact of democratisation on the status of women in the post- Suharto era (1998‚Äö-2008) and the emergence of hundreds of new NGOs in Indonesia since the fall of Suharto. It is not my purpose to make a judgment about the current state of women's organisations per se in Indonesia, beyond their engagement with the bill. I do, however, make some observations about what the intensive involvement by women in resistance to the bill might suggest about the role of women in public life in Indonesia since the fall of Suharto. Resistance to the bill can provide a lens through which to read the involvement of women in other political and social developments in the last decade, including, for example, those covered in the other articles in this issue. Barbara Hatley's article, 'Hearing Women's Voices, Contesting Women's Bodies in Post New Order Indonesia,' in Issue 16 of Intersections illustrates the centrality of the bill, and response to it, in discussions of the 'public presence of women' in Indonesia.


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