A teacher from Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, who has been jailed for spreading a recording revealing alleged sexual harassment by her former superior, has pleaded to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to release her.
The Supreme Court found Baiq Nuril Maknun, a high school teacher, guilty of defaming Muslim, the former principal at the school, by spreading a recording of a reportedly sordid phone call between the two of them, overturning a lower court's not guilty verdict.
In a controversial verdict that has incriminated a victim of sexual harassment, the court ruled on Friday that the 37-year-old must serve a six-month sentence and pay a Rp 500 million (US$33,749) fine after being found guilty of violating Article 27 of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law.
Wearing a black headscarf, Nuril sat and sobbed in front of her rented home in Mataram on Monday afternoon while a camera recorded her message to the President.
“Mr. President, I only ask for justice. Because I am the victim here. Is it my fault if I,” Nuril stopped her stammering words to take a breath and wipe her tears. And then, closing her eyes tightly to prevent the tears from falling she continued, “Is it wrong for me to try and defend myself in my own way?”
Her 7-year-old son was standing near her and looked puzzled as he did not really understand what was going on.
The video was published on YouTube on Tuesday by @contactsafenet, an account managed by the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet).
The ITE Law has been controversial for years, as it has jailed people for expressing their opinions, thoughts and complaints on the internet and social media, accusing violators of defamation.
SAFEnet recorded that the law had imprisoned at least 381 people since it was first deliberated in 2008, 90 percent of those imprisoned had been charged with defamation while the rest with hate speech.
In Nuril’s case, the recording, which had been spread in the school circle and local education agency, had caused Muslim to be removed from his job, and prompted him to report her to police. But Muslim was later promoted to a position at the local education agency.
Furkan Rudy Ermansah, a SAFEnet volunteer who recorded the video and had also been accompanying Nuril since the case emerged at the end of 2014, said he believed Nuril was a victim of sexual harassment and the tyranny of her principal, who fired her for something that was not her fault.
“We want President Jokowi and anyone with power in this country to help Nuril. She is innocent, she is the victim and yet she is the one who is being punished. Where can her family get Rp 500 million when it is already difficult for her, her husband and three children to pay for their daily needs,” Rudy told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
Rudy said when the case came to light, Nuril not only lost her job but her husband had to resign from his to care for their three children. After the recent Lombok earthquake, which also damaged part of their home, Nuril's husband took a part time job as an ojek (motorcycle taxi) driver.
Separately, a crowdfunding campaign initiated by the Victims of UU ITE Community (PALU ITE) began on Tuesday to raise money to help Nuril pay the fines.
Muhammad Arsyad, the head of PALU ITE, said help began flooding in from across and outside the country only a day after the campaign commenced.
The link had been shared 1,654 times on Facebook, with more than Rp 24 million collected as of Wednesday morning.