Asia

Indonesian district bans unwed couples from motorbike sharing

A man and a woman ride a motorbike in Banda Aceh 4 May 2015 Image copyright AFP / getty images
Image caption From 2016 only married couples will be allowed on a bike together

Politicians in North Aceh, a district in Indonesia's Aceh Province, have passed a bill to ban unmarried couples from riding a motorcycle together.

Lawmakers say that couples sharing bikes could be tempted to commit "sinful acts".

Aceh is the only province that is allowed to practice Sharia law and has passed a series of Islamic measures.

The rule comes into effect next year, along with requirements for schools to teach girls and boys separately.

There has been a mixed response from Indonesians. Some approve, whilst others argue that it is unconstitutional.

In addition, some riders are concerned with the practicalities of the move, questioning whether couples would be required to carry a marriage certificate and a driver's license.

Authorities say that the current etiquette violates Islamic law.

"Unmarried people sitting closely together on a motorcycle is clearly against Islamic Sharia as it could lead to sinful acts," politician Fauzan Hamzah told the AFP news agency.

"We will make efforts so that deeds which can lead to sin are eliminated gradually in North Aceh district," he added.

Those who break the law could be forced to to apologise, attend religious sermons or community service.

In 2013, one city in Aceh banned female riders from straddling bikes behind men. The women were ordered to ride side-saddle in order to protect their "morals and behaviours", according to the local mayor.

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