Many males in Papua are furious at a recent law pushed through the Indonesian parliament at the urging of fundamentalist Islamic groups which makes illegal, “bodily movements” deemed obscene and capable of violating public morality. Mr. Suroba, a sixty year old Papuan, said the Indonesian government in the 1970s tried to get him to wear pants and they failed then and will fail now. He insists Papuan males have the right to wear a penis gourd(koteka) and no one is going to get them into pants. The idea that outsiders can tell people their culture is incorrect is opposed not merely by men of Papua, but millions of other Indonesians. Do nude totem carvings fall under the ban against “obscene” images?
The police in the region are not too excited about the prospect of trying to force men to change their centuries old cultural practices because some fundamentalist Muslims hundreds of miles away spend their evenings worrying about nudity or people dancing the wrong way or a person’s display of the body. Muslims have their right to live as they so desire, but they have no right to tell other humans what is right or wrong about images and dress.