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Jakarta Post

Systematic transformation needed to address sexual violence

  • Liza Yosephine
    Liza Yosephine

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, May 20, 2016   /  12:14 pm
Systematic transformation needed to address sexual violence Protestors carry posters opposing sexual violence during Car Free Day at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle on May 15. Protesters demanded the government end sexual violence against women and children amid recent cases of rape and murder across Indonesia. (Antara/Teresia May)

Experts have called for systemic transformation at judicial, education and community levels to address sexual violence, which has gripped the nation’s attention as more and more cases come to light.

Personal responsibility must start with individuals rejecting any form of violence and being encouraged to stop it in any way possible, UN Women regional director for Asia and the Pacific Roberta Clarke said Thursday. This includes raising the alarm when they are alerted to cases of sexual violence that are occurring or have occurred.

"The point is that everyone needs to do something to end sexual violence in Indonesia and ASEAN and it starts at the individual level," she said at a press briefing on the sidelines of the Canada and UN Women conference on gender equality in ASEAN, held in Jakarta on Thursday.

Still, the government has the primary responsibility to prevent sexual violence and protect women from all forms of gender-based violence, Clarke said.

There are three key areas to focus on: judicial, education and social services.

Adequate laws that provide protection and solutions for women must be a priority and be enforced through well-administered courts to protect victims and punish perpetrators.

"The justice center is a big component of the state response that is needed," Clarke said.

Furthermore, the school system, starting from early childhood, needs to embed values in children so that they develop zero tolerance for violence. The move would transform social norms and transmit positive messages about the need for respect, equality and empathy between people, she added.

Finally, social provisions must also be made available to remove women who are victims of sexual violence from harm's way, whilst the justice system functions as it should to end impunity. It could be in the form of providing safe houses, shelters or hotlines for victims, Clarke said.

Meanwhile Jeannie Javelosa, co-architect of GREAT Women Philippines, an innovative inclusive business platform, said multisectoral partnerships such as those between non-governmental agencies, the private sector and psychiatric groups were also important.

Referring to the conditions she observed in her home country through working with GREAT Women, Javelosa stressed the importance of a place for people on the ground to help women who experienced sexual violence or those vulnerable to sexual abuse.

Moreover, it was also beneficial to link such human rights issues with the economic sector, by way of empowering victims to rebuild their lives through business and commercial opportunities.

"Until this can be attempted to be brought together in a cohesive template, we will only end up having to address issues that are isolated here and there per country," Javelosa said.

More and more sexual violence cases are being revealed because the issue has been buried for too long, she added, while calling for it to be addressed immediately.

Canadian Ambassador to ASEAN Marie-Louise Hannan, who also spoke at the conference, said despite the horrific nature of some sexual violence cases, it was better that they came to light rather than staying hidden.

"It's only by sharing it, and for society to react with the horror that they feel, that you will raise awareness and create a new, perhaps cultural norm that rejects this kind of violence and heinous acts," Hannan said.

Recent cases of sexual violence including the rape and murder of women and children have shocked the public and pushed the government to provide stricter regulations against sex crimes. (rin)

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