The Jakarta Post
A 15-year-old rape victim who was convicted of abortion can walk free after the Jambi High Court acquitted her of all charges on Monday.
Her case has garnered global attention after a lower court landed her in prison for abortion earlier this month. Child protection as well as women and human rights activists criticized the decision, saying she was a victim of rape by her brother and should have been treated as one.
The decision was made after the girl and her lawyer, Damai Idianto, appealed the Muarabulian District Court’s decision, which sentenced her to six months in juvenile detention to the high court. The detention was based on the evidence of a badly decomposed baby boy found on an oil palm plantation in Pulau village, Muara Tembesi district, Batanghari regency, Jambi.
In the appeal, the girl's legal team argued against Article 75, Paragraph 2b of the 2009 Health Law, which stipulates that a woman who aborts her pregnancy due to rape that resulted in psychological trauma is exempted from criminal punishment.
“The panel of judges stated that [the girl] was proven to have had an abortion, but the action was done under forced circumstances,” Jambi High Court spokesperson Hasoloan Sianturi said, adding that the judges would clear her name of any wrongdoing and would be exempt from all court fees.
Some of the figures in her village also regarded her as an "incest perpetrator", and a customary council decision banished her and her brother from the village. However, after the case resulted in national uproar, some of the village authorities, including village head Daman Huri, held a more sympathetic view toward the girl.
Save Our Sister (SOS) spokesperson Zubaidah said the ruling showed a change in the once rigid legal effort and reminded that judges and prosecutors should be more careful in determining a case.
She also said the court’s ruling would positively influence other rape victims to have faith in the legal system.
Jambi Women’s Consortium (KPJ) spokesperson Mirna Novita Amir added that her organization, along with many others, like the Jambi chapter of the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (PKBI), the Indonesian Women Coalition, the Sikok Foundation, the Legal Aid Foundation of Indonesian Women's Association for Justice (LBH APIK) and the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid (YLBHI), have declared their commitment to helping the girl by paying for her school outside of her district to assist the girl in recovering from her trauma. (ris/evi)