The prohibition of pornography has been a controversial area of law in Indonesia, attracting the attention both of Islamic conservatives and activists promoting freedom of expression. Several public figures have been investigated and prosecuted under questionable circumstances, raising concerns that the law is being applied arbitrarily. Recently, the police investigation of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab and his female follower Firza Hussein over a leaked salacious Whatsapp chat has put prohibitions of pornography back in the headlines. The case has gained attention both because FPI has been one of the main groups pushing for pornography prosecutions, and because the investigation has been widely perceived as politically motivated, following Rizieq’s role in the protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.
How does Indonesia regulate pornography, how have its anti-pornography laws been applied, and what determines who gets charged and convicted? How do debates over pornography reflect broader questions of morality and Islam in Indonesian society? In the first Talking Indonesia episode for 2018, Dr Dave McRae explores these issues with Dr Helen Pausacker, deputy director of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society (CILIS) at Melbourne Law School.
In 2018, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Dave McRae from the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, Dr Charlotte Setijadi from the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore and Dr Dirk Tomsa from La Trobe University.
Photo by Herka Yanis Pangaribowo for Antara.