The Jakarta Post
A former secretary for the Workers Social Security Agency’s (BPJS Ketenagakerjaan) supervisory board -- identified as RA -- who accused former board member Syafri Adnan Baharuddin of sexual harassment, has spoken out about the intimidation she had faced from colleagues and superiors.
RA, who is currently undergoing legal proceedings, said she had faced constant intimidation in the workplace after accusing Syafri of sexual harassment. The severe trauma that she had to endure was exacerbated by the dismissive attitude of her colleagues, she added.
“As if being sexually harassed was not enough, I also had to deal with false accusations and insults thrown at me by my colleagues,” she said on Wednesday. “Some of those who bullied me on social media are women. Why are they denigrating me instead of condemning the harasser?”
RA, who used to work as Syafri’s expert assistant, accused her former boss of sexually assaulting her at least four times between April 2016 and November last year.
She said the alleged assaults happened during and after working hours, adding that she always avoided Syafri whenever possible, but the alleged assaults happened when she could not avoid it. Some allegedly happened during out-of-town assignments, which, RA said, was orchestrated by Syafri.
She added that some of her colleagues had dismissed her harassment allegation as nothing more than blackmail.
“Several colleagues questioned why it had taken four attacks and two full years for me to come forward, which was why they thought I was in it for the money. The truth is I was too traumatized to do anything,” RA said, adding she became depressed and attempted to commit suicide because of the trauma.
BPJS Ketenagakerjaan spokesman Irvansyah Utoh Banja said the agency had established an official whistle-blowing platform to enable people to submit reports about issues related to it.
“BPJS Ketenenagakerjaan is a state-owned entity that operates on the principle of good governance. Therefore, the agency has established its own whistle-blowing system that allows people to report any problems they face,” Irvansyah told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
However, he said, he was not sure whether the agency had any internal platform to report specific cases of bullying and intimidation among colleagues.
Ade Armando, a representative of activist group Sexual Violence Victim Defenders (KPKS) who has been aiding RA in the legal process, said RA had been a victim of systemic oppression and discrimination in her workplace. In addition, he added, RA had also been re-victimized by the legal process whose “rigid and narrow definitions of sexual harassment and violence” was not stacked in her favor.
“The odds are indeed stacked against her. I’m very proud that [RA] still intends to charge ahead and fight for justice,” Ade said.
Women’s Legal Aid activist Ratna Batara Munti said RA’s case epitomized the country’s penchant for victim-blaming.
“Our patriarchal society tends to curtail female voices. Even our Criminal Code -- especially Article 285 on rape -- doesn’t really help victims as it still has outdated definitions,” she added, saying that the article on rape was particularly ridiculous as it stipulated that sexual assault cases required witnesses to the crime.
Ratna called on the government to immediately ratify and pass the long-gestating sexual violence bill to encourage more sexual assault victims to come forward and report their cases to the authorities.
In 2016, when RA first reported being sexually assaulted a member of the agency’s advisory council promised her that she would be protected, RA said.
The promise, however, was not fulfilled, she claimed.
BPJS Ketenagakerjaan’s supervisory board suspended RA after she reported that she had been sexual harassed. Furthermore, she said, the board even threatened to terminate her contract because she had “tainted the good name of BPJS Ketenagakerjaan”.
On Monday, Syarif’s legal team accused RA and Ade of defamation and submitted a report to the National Police’s general crimes unit in Jakarta. The team pointed to Facebook posts about the sexual harassment allegations they posted between November and December last year as legitimate points of contention.