Victims blamed for sexual assaults
Women’s rights activists condemned Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo for his statement that shifted the blame for a spike in rape cases onto women wearing tight and revealing outfits.
Fauzi said on Friday that women should not wear miniskirts when riding public transportation vehicles to avoid “any unwanted consequences”.
“I urge women in Jakarta and other cities to avoid wearing miniskirts when they ride on these minivans, because this could arouse male drivers and passengers,” Fauzi said responding to questions on what the city government would do to reduce the number of rape cases in the city. Activists were outraged by the statement, saying that it was a shameful statement from a public official.
“Fauzi should just resign. The governor of Jakarta should not make such statements as it does not reflect good governance principles,” director of Jurnal Perempuan Foundation Mariana Amiruddin told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Mariana said that rape should be considered as a crime, no matter what triggered the act.
“By attributing rape to how women dress Fauzi is blaming the victims. This is like saying that if Fauzi drove the minivan, he would think that it would be all right for him to rape female passengers in mini skirts,” she said.
Chairperson of the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) Yuniyanti Chuzaifah said that Fauzi’s statement was a classic statement of authority putting the blame on victims.
“His statement suggests that it is women who should be responsible [when a rape occurs],” she said.
Yuniyanti said Fauzi had done a lousy job in gender education for Jakarta residents.
“As the highest-ranking official in the city, Fauzi should be aware that people follow his example. If he’s saying things like this, people will think that he’s right,” she said.
This is not the first time government officials have made statements that shifted the blame for rape onto women.
In 2009, West Aceh regent Ramli Mansur made national headlines for suggesting that it was all right to rape a woman who wore tight pants.
Responding to a recent spike in rape cases in the city, a number of experts have also made statements that could be deemed as discriminatory against women.
Sociologist Musni Umar of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN) said earlier this week that YouTube videos with suggestive dangdut moves could be responsible for the spike in the number of sexual assault cases.
“Sexual assaults are very likely the result of YouTube. Those videos could easily arouse men,” he said as quoted by detik.com.
Meanwhile, police in South Jakarta handling the case of R.S., who was gang-raped inside a public transportation minivan on Sept. 1, said they found new evidence that could prove that the victim may have personally known one of the rapists, identified as A.
In a statement that could further victimize R.S., South Jakarta Police Detective Chief Sr. Comr. Budi Irawan said that R.S. had contacted A to meet her at a rendezvous point the night of the incident.
“R.S. was rather shocked finding three other men inside the minivan. But since she knew one of her assailants, she decided to get on board,” Budi said.
R.S., 27, was gang-raped by four men inside an M24 minivan plying the Srengseng-Kebon Jeruk route, on Sept. 1. The rapists also stole her cell phones before dumping her on a quiet street.
No response was given by the police when the woman reported the incident to police. Two weeks later on Tuesday evening, she spotted one of the rapists, the minivan driver, and had him arrested with the help of two traffic police officers.
Three suspects in the case are still at large.
This latest gang-rape case is similar to an incident involving a Bina Nusantara University student, Livia Pavita Soelistio, earlier last month.
According to criminal code article 285 on rape, a convicted rapist faces a maximum jail term of 12 years. (mim)