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Jakarta Post

UGM considers expelling alleged sexual abuser amid public pressure

  • Bambang Muryanto and Sri Wahyuni

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Wed, November 14, 2018   /   10:17 am
UGM considers expelling alleged sexual abuser amid public pressure Solidarity: Gadjah Mada University (UGM) students write names on a large piece of fabric to pressure university leaders to take action on sexual violence as part of a movement initiated by a group called #kitaagni (We Are Agni). Agni is the pseudonym of a student who was allegedly assaulted by a fellow student during a community service assignment in Maluku last year. (The Jakarta Post/Bambang Muryanto)

In response to public pressure, Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta is thinking about taking steps to expel a student who is accused of sexually assaulting a fellow student last year.

Rector Panut Mulyono said Monday he was thinking about setting up an ethics committee to reinvestigate the case. “If people think the punishment is not adequate, we have an ethics team that will reopen the case,” he said.

Panut earlier said UGM considered the case closed and the alleged assaulter’s punishment meted out. However, public pressure, some taking the form of an online movement called #KitaAgni (We Are Agni), deemed the measures insufficient to deliver justice to the victim, who has the pseudonym Agni in an investigative report by Balairung Press, a student press of the university.

Panut said in Yogyakarta that he sympathized with the victim but he wanted both Agni and the alleged perpetrator, HS, to graduate and become better people. “Both are our children. We want to handle this case in an educational way so both learn some lessons but no one is destroyed,” Panut said to reporters last week.

The case surfaced after Balairung interviewed Agni, who told them how she was blamed by campus officials after the case. She said she was assaulted on June 30 last year during a community service project (KKN) at a Maluku village. A KKN is a compulsory school program that lasts several months, during which students live with local families in the target village.

The Indonesian Ombudsman (ORI) responded to the case by saying they suspected UGM of “maladministration” in handling Agni’s report.

“The suspected maladministration is delaying the resolution of the case,” said ORI member, Ninik Rahayu on Saturday. Such delay was in violation of the 2009 law on public service, she said.

UGM’s handling of the matter, called “victim blaming” by many, triggered an online petition on demanding that UGM deliver justice for Agni, a student at the School of Social and Political Sciences (Fisipol).

As of Tuesday evening, a week after the petition was made, more than 170,000 people had signed it.

Pipin Jamson, a lecturer at Fisipol, spoke on behalf of Agni, saying that Agni wanted HS to be expelled from the university without honor. An offline petition in UGM has garnered 1,600 signatures, demanding that UGM expel HS.

HS, a student at the School of Engineering, has reportedly finished his thesis and is about to graduate.

Panut said the university had actually punished HS based on a recommendation from an ad hoc investigation team looking into the case, which comprised campus officials from several internal institutions. The punishments included postponing HS’ graduation by one semester, pulling HS from the KKN site in Maluku and making him undergo mandatory counseling for sex abusers.

Deputy rector Paripurna Sugarda said UGM was focusing on protecting and giving Agni psychological counseling. “We’re looking at the possibility of bringing this case to [the police],” he said.

Deputy head of the Witnesses and Victims Protection Agency (LPSK), Hasto Atmojo, visited UGM and talked to Panut and Fisipol dean Erwan Agus Purwanto. Hasto said he saw sexual assaults as a serious problem. Hasto said sexual assault happened as a result of unequal power relations in a patriarchal society, and that women were mostly the victims.

“To anyone who is a rape victim, have courage to speak up because the state would give protection through the LPSK,” he said.

Erwan of Fisipol spoke on behalf of Agni, saying that Agni was still considering about pursuing legal action. “The process has to take into account the victim’s psychological condition,” he said. Erwan said Agni’s psychological condition was still “unstable”. She had received psychological support from a women’s crisis center in Yogyakarta, Rifka Annisa.

Agni was still finishing her thesis, he said.

This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post's print edition on Nov. 14, 2018, with the title "UGM considers expelling alleged sexual abuser".