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Jakarta Post

UGM settles alleged sexual abuse case

  • Sri Wahyuni

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Wed, February 6, 2019   /   10:38 am
UGM settles alleged sexual abuse case 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 an upset turn in a sexual violence case against a female student, Gadjah Mada University (UGM) rector Panut Mulyono announced on Monday that the case had been resolved as the victim, the perpetrator and the university had agreed to settle the case out of court. 

Speaking at a press briefing held after the signing of the agreement between the parties at his office on late Monday afternoon, Panut said that both AN (the victim, who is also known by the pseudonym Agni), HS (the perpetrator) and UGM considered the case resolved.

“HS has expressed regret, admitted his wrongdoing and begged AN for forgiveness over what happened in June 2017, in front of UGM [officials],” Panut said, adding that as rector he also signed the agreement together with AN and HS.

Accompanying the rector were two deputy rectors and deans of UGM’s School of Engineering and School of Social and Political Sciences.

On Nov. 5, UGM’s student magazine Balairung published an investigative report on an incident of sexual violence against AN. 

In the report, AN, a student at the School of Social and Political Sciences, alleged that HS, a student at UGM’s School of Engineering, sexually abused her during a community service assignment (KKN) in a Maluku village on June 30, 2017.

The case promptly made headlines and UGM was blamed for the slow handling of the case and for “victim blaming”, as it did not directly investigate the case at first.

The case led to mounting support and calls for the university to protect Agni and punish the perpetrator. 

There had been controversy, however, over how the university should handle the case. 

Panut said the agreement also obliged HS to undergo counseling with a clinical psychologist appointed by UGM or of his own choice until the psychologist declares it completed.

AN, similarly, is obliged to undergo trauma counseling with a clinical psychologist. “UGM facilitates and fully pays for the counseling fees for HS and AN,” Panut said.

He added that as part of the agreement, UGM would also provide the funds AN needed to finish her studies at UGM, which is equal to the funds she receives from Bidik Misi, a government scholarship for university students for financially constrained families. The funds include tuition fees and living costs.

“UGM has also given a mandate to the School of Social and Political Sciences and the School of Engineering to fully oversee the education of HS and AN, so both can finish their studies by May and to make sure that all the agreed clauses are well-implemented,” Panut said.

When asked about why the university took such a long time to come to the agreement, Panut said it was a sensitive case and the university tried to be prudent in resolving it, especially considering the impact it had on both students.

The dean of UGM’s School of Social and Political Sciences, Erwan Agus Purwanto, concurred, saying it took a long time for his side to really listen and talk to AN to really know what she wanted regarding the case.

“We did not want to force our solution,” said Erwan, assuring that the settlement made on Monday was what AN really wanted for the case.

As the case was also reported to the police, UGM deputy rector overseeing alumni and cooperation Paripurna said it would be up to the police to continue or stop the investigation.

“This is not a complaint offense,” he said, adding that the case was reported to the police by an employee of UGM as an individual, not as an institution, and UGM was not in the position to ask the person to withdraw the 

Paripurna also said that UGM had also agreed not to disclose the result of the investigation conducted by the ethics committee specially set up for the case, but its recommendation had been of great help in reaching the settlement made on Monday.

“This is for the sake of AN’s and HS’s future,” he said.

This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post's print edition on Feb. 6, 2019, with the title "UGM settles alleged sexual abuse case".