An Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) commissioner has apologized for claiming that women could get pregnant from swimming in the same pool as men.
KPAI commissioner for health, narcotics, and addictive substances, Sitti Hikmawatty, conceded that she had made an “inaccurate statement”.
“It was a personal statement and not from the KPAI,” she said in a press release on Sunday, adding that she had already made a retraction — but not before drawing widespread ridicule both online and offline.
Sitti made the statement during an interview with tribunnews.com, saying that women should exercise caution when swimming in a public swimming pool with men or risk getting pregnant.
“There is an especially strong type of male sperm that may cause […] pregnancy in a swimming pool,” Sitti said in the interview. “Even without penetration, men may become sexually excited [by women in the pool] and ejaculate, therefore causing a pregnancy.”
She went on to say that his type of pregnancy was more likely to happen if the women in question had reached an age of being sexually active.
“If women are in a phase where they are sexually active, [such a pregnancy] may occur. No one knows for sure how men react to the sight of women in a swimming pool.”
The series of bizarre claims were immediately met with strong responses from the public, including medical practitioners.
Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) executive Nazar said it was “impossible” for women to get pregnant in a swimming pool.
“The water in swimming pools […] contains chlorine and other chemicals,” he said on Sunday as quoted by Antara news agency. “Sperm cannot survive in these conditions.”
Indonesian netizens have weighed in on the matter by using what they are most known for: memes and sarcasm.
Web comic artist KomikFaktap, for example, posted on twitter an image he created that was inspired by the theatrical poster for Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. But instead of a great white shark emerging from the depths of the ocean, a school “super sperm” is swimming toward an unsuspecting female swimmer. The movie title has been replaced with AWAS (watch out).
“The importance of proper sex education,” @KomikFaktap wrote in the caption of the post, which has been retweeted over 4,500 times on the social media platform.
Others were less inclined to humor in their response to Sitti’s statement, with some calling for her immediate dismissal from the KPAI.
Ternyata masih ada yg belum tahu kenapa cewek berendam di air banjir bisa hamil? Ini loh, beritanya.— Dumdum (@yusuf_dumdum) February 23, 2020
Ini statemen terbodoh dan skaligus bikin malu lembaga @KPAI_official !
Sebaiknya komisioner yg sprti ini dipecat saja. Setuju? #PecatSittiHikmawattyhttps://t.co/uOB2SkHVkv
“This is the dumbest statement, one that shames the KPAI. Commissioners like [Sitti] need to be removed from office. Agree?” @yusuf_dumdum tweeted.
Another Twitter user, @jr_kw19, wrote, “I’m baffled as to how the KPAI is still run by people who think this way.”
IQ Jongkok !!!— Pribumi Kawe (@jr_kw19) February 23, 2020
Anggota KPAI Sitti Hikmawatti mengatakan kehamilan dapat terjadi jika berenang dgn laki laki
Heran @KPAI_official di isi dgn orang yg pola pikirnya begini #PecatSittiHikmawatty pic.twitter.com/YwWba3qW5S
The KPAI itself has issued an official response to the public backlash, saying that Sitti’s statement did not represent the organization.
“We hereby state that KPAI’s understanding and attitude are not reflected in the online news narrative,” KPAI chairman Susanto wrote in the statement on Saturday. (rfa)