Survey finds widespread violence against women
Margareth S. Aritonang
The Jakarta Post
A nationwide survey has revealed that at least one third of women in the country have experienced violence in their lives, inflicted mostly by their spouses and those who are closest to them.
The survey, commissioned by the Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry and conducted by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), interviewed 9,000 women between the ages of 15 and 64 from various economic and educational backgrounds and found that 33.4 percent of the respondents had experienced violence in their lifetimes.
BPS also found that of the 33.4 percent of respondents, 15.3 percent had fallen victim to sexual violence, while 9.1 percent had been subjected to physical abuse.
Women interviewed for the survey revealed that the sexual violence ranged from people groping women and making unwanted sexual advances toward them to husbands forcing their spouses to have intercourse.
“In the results for married women, at least 7.8 percent of them agreed to have intercourse because they were scared,” BPS head Suhariyanto said in a press briefing on Thursday.
As for single or unmarried women, sexual abuse took the form of groping, getting obscene messages, receiving pornographic pictures or videos and being forced to have intercourse.
“Ten percent of the respondents said that they got lewd messages, while 7.1 percent said they were subjected to touching and groping,” Suhariyanto said.
The survey also found that sexual abuse happened more often in urban areas, with 36 percent of reported abuse taking place in cities, while only 19.8 percent happened in villages.
Respondents in the survey also identified the perpetrators of abuse as neighbors, friends, teachers, law enforcement officers, partners outside of marriage, sexual partners, parents, in-laws and other family members including grandfathers, uncles and cousins.
“We have to do more to make violence against women an extraordinary crime,” said the BPS head.
The survey also revealed the difficulty of getting information from the female respondents, who had to answer questions from interviewers with spouses or partners closely watching.
The BPS survey appears to support findings from the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), which reported an increase of 8.5 percent of reports of violence against women last year. Komnas Perempuan registered 1,354 cases throughout 2016.
Responding to the growing trend of violence against women, a number of female lawmakers from across the political factions have taken the initiative to propose a bill that would make sexual violence against women a serious criminal offense.
The bill also includes stipulations that will encourage women to speak up about their experiences by setting up a sanctuary for victims of abuse where they could speak about the crimes without risking their safety.
Legal counsel assigned to the sanctuary would be responsible for making reports and making sure that legal processes would start against the people accused of the crime.
In order to encourage more women to report their cases, the bill will also mandate the government to pay for the medical costs needed as part of any investigation.
Lawmaker Ammy Amalia Fatma Surya, one of the initiators of the bill, said it would also require the police to assign trained and certified investigators to handle sex crimes. She said such investigators are currently in short supply.
“We want to prevent victims from becoming subject to more abuse during investigations,” Ammy told The Jakarta Post.
The National Mandate Party (PAN) politician, however, acknowledged that there was only minor interest in the bill. There has been no progress in the deliberation of the bill since the House of Representatives agreed to include it in the National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) in early February.
“I thought it would take two sitting sessions to complete the deliberations. Unexpectedly, it is harder than I thought to make it a priority of the House,” Ammy told the Post.
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