FACEBOOK has suspended the account of a young Indonesian woman who posted historical photos of local women to protest the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission’s censoring of a beauty pageant recently.
Last Saturday, the Puteri Indonesia 2016 pageant was broadcast on local channel Indosiar, but viewers were puzzled when they saw that television censors were blurring out the chests and legs of some contestants who were wearing the traditional Indonesian kebaya, considered a national costume.
Of late, Indonesian conservatives have increasingly justified the need for censorship to “protect traditional Indonesian culture”.
This led Dea Basori, 23, to question the censors.
Speaking to Asian Correspondent, Dea said she decided to search the internet using the keyword “Indonesian women old photos” and compiled the pictures she found into a photo album on her Facebook account, which she made accessible to the public.
The pictures were mostly black and white images of Indonesian women throughout history, dressed in traditional attire. Many of the women in the photos were topless or bared their nipples.
“I did this to counter the censors and ask, ‘whose culture are you protecting?’ Is their definition of Indonesian culture a true reflection of it?”
She added that her album, entitled “The Culture of Real Indonesian Women”, received almost 3,000 shares within 24 hours of uploading.
— DEA (@DeaSB) February 23, 2016
However, on Tuesday night at around 7pm local time, Dea received a notice from Facebook informing her that her account had been suspended.
“Facebook told me to write an appeal if I wanted to get my account back up,” she said, adding that her account’s suspension was apparently a result of the photos, as her post had received about 50 reports for “nudity” and “explicit content”.
“The photos I posted are all over the internet; all I did was compile them. And besides, it’s a part of our history – how can people be offended?”
She also criticized Indonesian censors and conservatives for their contradictory stance: “Why are women told to cover up, but not men? We see men freely posting photos of their bare chests or going topless in advertisements. How can you sexualize women’s chests but not men’s?”
Dea, a dental student, is of Javanese descent and is proud of her heritage. She said she felt “sad” for those who felt the need to report the photos.
In her appeal to Facebook, she wrote that she understood that Facebook had the right to enforce its policy to keep the social media platform a safe place to socialize. But she felt that Facebook also had the potential to be used as a tool to educate people and be a safe space for discussion towards better understanding among the public.
“I saw the historical photos that I have collected so far as a valuable aspect of Indonesian history. They shouldn’t be contrived as pornographic, obscene, or scandalous photography, but rather as an aspect of history that could help society contemplate the over-sexualization of women’s bodies.
“There shouldn’t be intimidation towards individuals who are genuinely eager to educate the public about Indonesian history,” she said.
Below is a photo of the censored beauty pageant, which went viral among Indonesian netizens.
Udah disensor lho pic.twitter.com/KZaUrOvGdR
— Ferdiriva Hamzah (@ferdiriva) February 21, 2016