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Activists slam sexual violence regulation for not protecting victims

  • Marguerite Afra Sapiie
    Marguerite Afra Sapiie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sun, May 29, 2016 | 05:59 am
Activists slam sexual violence regulation for not protecting victims Activists protest in front of the House of Representatives to demand the government pass a sexual abuse bill into law without stipulating castration and capital punishment. (TRIBUNNEWS/Iwan Rismawan)

Rights activists have slammed the government's regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) on sexual violence against children, saying it focuses on punishing offenders without showing adequate concern for victims.

Muhammad Hafiz, acting director of the Jakarta-based Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), said that like previous laws, the government had failed to include clauses that protected victims, particularly their right to rehabilitation.

Data collected by the HRWG from various hospitals said victims of sexual abuse often paid for post-traumatic treatment by themselves, as the government did not provide psychological rehabilitation to comprehensively help victims, Hafiz said.

"It does not protect the victims [...] even the very root causes of sexual violence have not been deliberated seriously," Hafiz told thejakartapost.com on Friday.

On Wednesday, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo signed a Perppu stipulating chemical castration as a punishment for rapists of children, following an increase of reports of sexual abuse against minors across the country.

The Perppu imposes heavy sanctions for offenders, such as sentences of 20 years’ imprisonment or the death penalty, in accordance with the circumstances of the case.

Chemical castration is one of three additional sanctions stipulated by the Perppu, along with the public announcement of offenders’ identities and the installation of electronic detection devices.

Some activists have expressed strong disagreement with the chemical castration plan, saying it violates the principles of the International Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which Indonesia has ratified through Law No. 5/1998.

While the Perppu articulated harsh punishments for sexual offenders, it did not accommodate the victims' side, particularly on rehabilitation and preventive measures, said National Commission of Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) chairperson Azriana.

"The Perppu issuance shows the true colors of the government's views on long-lasting sexual violence cases: Only having a deterrent effect for offenders matters," Azriana said as quoted by kompas.com.

The House should reconsider the enactment of the Perppu and should push for immediate deliberation of the bill on the eradication of sexual violence to step up law enforcement, Azriana said.

According to Azriana, the bill would become a legal foundation to protect Indonesian women and children from sexual violence, as well as to seek justice for victims.

Komnas Perempuan data revealed in 2013 that three women become a victim of sexual abuse every two hours. Unfortunately, Azriana said, the data was not taken into consideration when lawmakers amended the Child Protection Law in 2015.

Separately, Fati Lazira from the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI), said chemical castration would not resolve the overall problem, adding that the government should make comprehensive efforts by strengthening preventive measures.

According to Fati, the phenomena of sexual violence has numerous root causes, including poverty, poor education, a lack of control over television programming and the spread of negative information on social media, which are all interconnected.

The education system should be modified, Fati said, as the current system made students too single-minded and did not provide room for them to explore ideas.

"The government addresses sexual violence with reactive sanctions such as chemical castration, but it actually won't solve the long-term problems," Fati said. (dan)