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Jakarta Post

Public outcry as House plans to delay sexual violence bill – again

  • Alya Nurbaiti and Budi Sutrisno

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, July 2, 2020   /   01:20 pm
Public outcry as House plans to delay sexual violence bill – again A House of Representatives plan to withdraw the highly anticipated sexual violence bill (RUU PKS) from this year’s National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) priority list has sparked a public outcry. (JP/Anggie Angela)

A House of Representatives plan to withdraw the highly anticipated sexual violence bill (RUU PKS) from this year’s National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) priority list has caused a public outcry.

Lawmakers excluded the bill from the list during a meeting of the House Legislation Body (Baleg) on Tuesday. The House claimed deliberation of the bill was “complicated”, even though lawmakers had never deliberated the legislation and had already deferred the discussion for a year. The House is meeting with government representatives on Thursday to decide this year’s final legislative priority list.

National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) commissioner Mariana Amiruddin said delaying the bill meant the House had no concern for the victims of sexual violence.

“Every minute of delay means more people fall victim to sexual violence and more victims are prevented from getting justice,” she said on Wednesday, as quoted by kompas.com.

Many Twitter users bristled at the excuse that the deliberation was “complicated”, calling it lazy and ignorant as data showed sustained rates of sexual violence. Komnas Perempuan recently reported that there were 431,471 cases of violence against women throughout 2019, an increase of 6 percent from the previous year when there were 406,178 cases. Of the figures, 5,509 cases of sexual violence were reported in 2018, and 4,176 were reported in 2019. 

“You guys call yourselves representatives, but who the hell do you represent anyway? People are literally begging for [the bill],” Twitter user @mcflurrycendol said on Tuesday.

Institute for Criminal and Justice Reform (ICRJ) director Erasmus Napitupulu said the bill had to remain a top priority.

“The House and the government must acknowledge that the bill’s spirit is to provide protection for victims of sexual violence,” Erasmus said in a written statement on Wednesday.

As it stands, many victims of sexual violence in Indonesia fear to report their cases because of social stigma. Getting legal and psychological assistance is even harder.

Some victims have faced legal prosecution for pursuing their cases. A woman named Baiq Nuril, for example, was jailed for reporting sexual harassment and later pardoned.

The sexual violence bill, if passed, would prohibit the criminalization of victimhood and would forbid law enforcement to blame or degrade victims or to saddle victims with the responsibility of searching for evidence in their own cases.

The sexual violence bill would add forms of admissible evidence, such as the victim’s statement, the visum et psychiatricum (psychological report), electronic information and other documents that provide an opportunity for the victim to meet evidentiary requirements – all of which are absent in the current Criminal Code.

“The bill also addresses the lack of access to assistance for victims, the state’s ignorance of the victim’s recovery and the absence of a comprehensive mechanism to prevent and handle sexual violence,” Erasmus said.

He said the government, through Presidential Regulation No.82/2018 on health insurance, had excluded coverage for treatment related to sexual violence. Therefore, the cost of a visum et repertum (legal medical report) was not covered by the state, nor was the cost of a visum et psychiatricum.

The bill was highly important as it would enforce victims’ rights, such as the right to recovery and the right not to be revictimized during the legal process, Erasmus said.

He said addressing sexual violence was, indeed, complicated and needed the government’s support.

“If the government gives up just because it’s hard, then victims of sexual violence once again become victims,” he added.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 student activists, academics, institutions as well as survivors of sexual violence across the country also signed an open statement to push for the endorsement of the bill this year.

The statement was signed in less than 24 hours from Wednesday evening to Thursday afternoon by 1,250 individuals and institutions, who called themselves the Society against Sexual Violence Supporting the RUU PKS Bill (#MAKSAdukungRUUPKS).

“The phenomenon of sexual violence still exists in Indonesia and the number of cases continues to increase. There are still no laws or regulations that comprehensively [...] provide protection for the victims,” the group said in the statement.

Indonesia has been charging perpetrators of sexual violence under the Criminal Code, which the group considers a product of colonial legislation that has not been sufficient to accommodate the needs of security and freedom from various forms of sexual violence.

“The sexual violence bill offers an up-to-date perspective that such a law should be instituted based on the experiences of victims,” the group said.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Yacko (@itsyacko) on

Yacko, an Indonesian rapper, released a song responding to the House’s plan to delay the bill:

Difficult?

So you think what we’re going through is not difficult? You know what’s difficult?

Difficult is being unable to heal from the trauma of being sexually assaulted, even after years.

Difficult is when a rape victim sees a doctor or a police officer but is asked “do you pray five times a day?”

Difficult is when a pregnant woman is told to marry the rapist.

Difficult is getting justice for victims of sexual violence when the law is nonexistent.

Difficult is knowing a child who is raped by their own family.

Difficult is when clothes are always the ones to blame for sexual harassment.

Difficult is seeing perpetrators walk away and people normalize it.

Difficult is knowing the House is not protecting the victims.

Yacko posted a video of the song on her account @yacko on Wednesday.