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Jakarta Post

Justice insists adultery root of society’s ills

  • Hans Nicholas Jong

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, August 31, 2016   /  07:15 am
Justice insists adultery root of society’s ills Constitutional Court justices stand on a podium during a ceremony to mark its 13th anniversary in front of the court building in Jakarta on Aug. 15. (mahkamahkonstitusi.go.od/Ifa)

In the latest hearing pertaining to a judicial review petition to outlaw sex outside of marriage at the Constitutional Court on Tuesday, a heated debate ensued between one of the justices and a women’s rights activist over one question: Does extramarital sex harm women?

Justice Patrialis Akbar said he believed sex outside of marriage was a crime, even it was practiced by an unmarried couple, as such practices disadvantaged women. In Tuesday’s hearing, where human rights activists were presented for the first time to give their opinion on the case, Patrialis asked the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) whether all types of extramarital sex should be outlawed to protect Indonesian women.

“If zina happens, let’s say it’s consensual, and then the woman gets pregnant and the man runs away, who’s the victim and who should be protected?” he asked, referring to the term used in the Quran to describe extramarital sex. In the Criminal Code (KUHP), zina is limited to adultery.

Azriana responded by explaining to the justice that zina is not the same as sexual violence.

“When a woman has sex with a man and then he leaves her, it’s called sexual exploitation and that is one of nine forms of sexual violence,” she said.

But the act of consensual sex itself should not be criminalized because it is a private matter and each person should answer for their own actions to their own God, she added.

Apparently Azriana’s explanation failed to satisfy Patrialis, who insisted that extramarital sex was the root of many problems in society.

“The exploitation of women is often caused by consensual sex and tremendous flirting and thousands of promises [made by men]. We often see that it ends with murder. Lots of women fall victim because the regulation allows zina,” he argued, adding that casual sex harmed women as they were often treated as nothing but sex objects.

“I am very concerned. Komnas Perempuan is supposed to fight violence against women. This article [on adultery] is actually destroying women,” he said.

In response to his accusation, Azriana told Patrialis that consensual sex itself did not harm anyone as there were no victims in the practice. “Casual sex turns into a problem only when violence is involved.”

Patrialis has again shown indication that he is in favor of widening the definition of adultery in the KUHP, as requested by the petitioners of the judicial review, who are grouped under an organization called the Family Love Alliance (AILA). The group wants the court to change the definition of rape and sodomy as well in a bid to criminalize same-sex relationships.

Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) researcher Erasmus AT Napitupulu said criminalizing casual sex would lead to over criminalization. “It will lead to a high number of criminals and a change in the priorities of law enforcement in Indonesia, from corruption, terrorism and drugs,” he said.

But that explanation is still not good enough for Patrialis.“Is there any religion in Indonesia that condones casual sex?” he asked.

Erasmus answered by throwing another question at Patrialis. “Is there any religion in Indonesia that allows a child to fight his or her parents? But could you imagine if there was an article that said anyone who fought their parents could be sentenced to five years’ imprisonment?” he said.