The Jakarta Post
The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) on Tuesday called for the National Police chief to investigate police officers in Wamena, Papua, for "arbitrarily" shaming alleged sex workers. The rights group also urged the Home Ministry to assess Jayawijaya Regent Jhon Richard Banua, who had condoned "the violation of human rights".
Police arrested 11 women on suspicion of prostitution on Monday in Wamena. It was reported that the police then "dunked" the women, along with their alleged pimp, into a large muddy pond on the premises of the regent's office in front of a crowd.
"We also arrested several students during the sting operation. They had not had sex yet," said Jayawijaya Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Tonny Ananda Swadaya as quoted by local news portal ceposonline.com.
He added that the police regularly shamed people who indulged in morally questionable activities.
Jhon, the Jayawijaya regent, witnessed the punishment and said the local administration and police force took stern measures to end "such behavior".
The ICJR, a Jakarta-based rights group, condemned the police's action as "inhumane".
“What they did was an arbitrary action carried out without any legal basis. It violates human rights,” ICJR executive director Erasmus Napitupulu said in a statement sent to The Jakarta Post, stressing that no Indonesian law existed that criminalized sex workers.
“Even if there are indications of the criminal act of sexual exploitation involving child victims, all legal proceedings must be based on criminal procedural law, which protects human rights,” Erasmus said.
Jhon said on Monday that the the shaming was intended "for the public good", adding that if the "prostitutes" were not punished in some way, it would be impossible to change their behavior.
"We are not only punishing the prostitutes, but also the pimp, who runs a kiosk as a front. We will revoke his business permits," he said, adding that the Jayawijaya administration had also returned dozens of women suspected of prostitution to their homes in December 2018.
"This time, the pimp must send them home," Jhon said.
The National Police spokesman did not respond when the Post contacted him for a comment on the incident. (das)