In the wake of a case of an alleged sexual assault against a Gadjah Mada University (UGM) student known by the pseudonym “Agni”, the university has set up a team tasked to draft a comprehensive rector’s regulation for the prevention of such assaults in the future. Muhadjir Darwin, chairperson of the drafting team for the UGM Rector’s Regulation on the Prevention and Response to Sexual Violence, recently spoke with The Jakarta Post’s Bambang Muryanto about the matter.
Question: How is the drafting of the rector’s regulation progressing?
Answer: Alhamdulillah [Thank God], the draft of the Rector’s Regulation on the Prevention and Response to Sexual Violence is complete. The draft has gone through several revisions and we have also asked for advice, criticism and input from the National Commission on Violence Against Women, as well as gender experts from the University of Indonesia, Sebelas Maret University, UGM and the Rifka Annisa Women’s Crisis Center. Lastly, we asked for input from student organizations on campus.
After this we will finalize the draft. It should be finalized by the end of February as per our mandate. However, since it still needs revisions and input from various parties, the mandate has been extended to the end of March. I think we will submit it on the first or second week of March.
After that, it will depend on the rector for its implementation as it contains articles on how to develop the prevention system and the handling of sexual violence, as well as the institutions tasked to respond in the case of violence.
In the context of prevention on campus, many campus members are still blind and sometimes insensitive to gender issues. Decision makers are often caught up in words that reflect their ignorance about gender, which causes such problems to be less manageable. We will also push for the mainstreaming of gender issues in university policies through training for campus leaders, lecturers, students and teaching staff. We also propose the inclusion of gender issues in lectures so that everyone will understand and be gender sensitive. This is a preventive step.
We are also setting up a task force and establishing gender-issue focal points in each school, each department and the student communities so that whenever there are elements of sexual harassment or sexual violence, they would be immediately taken care of.
What is the focal point exactly?
There are certain people — students and lecturers — mandated to oversee the issue and take proactive measures in cases of sexual violence. By having focal points among students and lecturers, gender equity awareness will spread equally and help prevent violence, rape cases and other crimes against women.
When the draft is finished, will UGM be the first university in Indonesia to have such a standard operating procedure for the handling and prevention of sexual violence?
If the rector’s regulation is confirmed then it would become a benchmark. We will then invite gender experts from other universities for a seminar here to discuss operational measures to handle and overcome the gender problems.
So, will the rector’s regulation change gender perceptions on campus?
Hopefully, because such a rector’s regulation is considerably late as gender-issue mainstreaming has been in existence since the Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid administration and was already adopted by all government institutions, including the Education and Culture Ministry and the Research and Technology and Higher Education Ministry, which have formally and legally included gender-issue mainstreaming in education policies, but its implementation is weak because not all institutions under the ministry have explicitly adopted it.
You mention gender-issue blindness. What do you mean?
There is no understanding of gender inequality. For example, there were officials who said that the rape of Agni was natural, while equating the rapist’s act with the attitude of cats being provided with salted fish — that they would certainly ingest it without hesitation. This kind of perspective shows that they [officials] are unaware of systemic gender inequality and put the blame on the victim, instead of the perpetrator. This is a sensitive issue and hurts women.
Will this rector’s regulation be a strong rule?
Hopefully so because it does not only regulate, but also leads the development of the system and instruments for its implementation so that it becomes a systematic pattern rather than symptomatic. We want to have a system that will continuously exist. UGM will perhaps be the first university in Indonesia to develop a system like this, but many foreign universities developed it quite a long time ago.
Will the rector adopt the draft in its entirety?
I do not know. We were asked to draft the rector’s regulation because we were considered to have the competence to perform the task. We make it truly professional. Hopefully, it would be adopted in its entirety.
The final draft will then be brought by the rector to the senate meeting. The senate will decide whether it could become a policy. There is the possibility of a critical review by the senate on the substance, but logically we were the ones mandated to draft the regulation, so it should be adopted.
Is this draft in line with the sexual violence bill being drafted in the House of Representatives?
Yes, the bill is one of the references, including the definition of sexual violence.
If it is adopted as a rector’s regulation, can it be retroactive?
There was a discussion on whether the rector’s regulation could be retroactive. We expect that this regulation could become a legal umbrella, including for cases of the past. However, this regulation is basically future-oriented as it is meant for preventive and healing purposes.
Why do many cases of sexual violence occur within the university environment?
I don’t think sexual violence is university specific as it also happens in government and private offices, as well as in public spaces. However, we cannot let something inhumane happen. We must control it because it violates the rights of others. In a rape case, morality is violated, so it must be regulated.
Some schools — medicine and psychology — already have their own [mechanisms] to handle such cases. If there are cases in the respective schools, they handle them internally.
However, there is not yet such a mechanism at the university level, which is necessary because rape cases could happen across different schools, such as in the case of Agni. Such cases could also happen both on and off campus. In the case of Agni, it occurred within the campus compound, while in Maluku [Muhadjir did not specify which case] it happened outside campus.
Moreover, there is a power relationship between lecturers and students that even when a rape case occurs outside campus, it would still be considered an internal issue. For example, if a lecturer asked a student to come to his home at 10 p.m. for thesis-writing guidance and a rape occurred, it would then still be considered a campus problem. The place where the crime occurs is not a limitation [for a follow-up on the case], but the [identity of the alleged] perpetrator [is the defining factor].
Basically, we only handle cases involving civitas academica of the UGM internally, but if the victims decide to bring the case to court, we will surely provide assistance.
So is this an internal mechanism?
Yes and the sanctions are internal, such as suspensions, temporary lay-offs and termination of employees, lecturers or students, depending on the identities of the perpetrators.