The Jakarta Post
Women rights activists have called for authorities in East Kalimantan not to bow to pressure from local groups seeking to use Dayak customary law to settle the case of a man alleged to have raped his 18-year-old daughter.
The activists, grouped under the Coalition of Justice for Women, demanded in a petition addressed to, among others, the top brass of the Samarinda Police, the East Kalimantan Police and the Samarinda Prosecutors Office, to bring the perpetrator, identified by the initials ORS, to the court for his crime.
"The case should not be settled through customary law or be settled out of court," said Yuliwati, one of the activists who participated in the writing of the petition, which was published on change.org.
ORS was arrested on July 26 in Samarinda, the provincial capital of East Kalimantan, for allegedly raping his daughter three times when his wife was out of town. The latest assault took place on July 25, according to the police.
Citing the testimony of the victim, Samarinda Police detective chief Comr. Yuliansyah said ORS had forced his daughter to drink alcohol before sexually assaulting her.
"The victim managed to escape from her house afterwards and got help from her neighbors who accompanied her to report the case to [the police]," Yuliansyah said.
The police subsequently named ORS a rape suspect after collecting sufficient evidence, including the victim's physical examination results. The victim was also taken to a safe house.
ORS – a lawyer who is locally known as a leader of a Dayak community group – denied all accusations.
Shortly after his arrest, a number of Dayak communities under the Alliance of East Kalimantan Mass Organization sent a request to the police for ORT's detention to be delayed and for the case to be settled through customary law instead.
In general, Dayak customary law stipulates fines as punishment for those who are found to have committed violations, although the details usually differ in each subtribe. The fines range from a sum of money, animals such as pigs or buffalos to other goods such as porcelain plates or pots. In some cases, the violators of customary law are banished from their family or village.
The form of punishment is usually decided through a customary trial that involves tribal elders and figures.
However, Yulita, who has experience working with indigenous tribes in East and South Kalimantan, said fines were not sufficient to create a deterrent effect against sexual assault, especially if the perpetrator came from a well-off family.
"Therefore, we oppose settling this rape case through customary law. Justice needs to be upheld and the perpetrator should be brought to court," Yulita told The Jakarta Post.
Herdiansyah Hamzah, a criminal law expert from Mulawarman University in Samarinda, asserted that rape was a serious crime that carried a more than five-year prison sentence and, therefore, legal proceedings should be continued once the police begin their investigation.
"In many instances, [criminal] cases can be settled through customary law at the same time, as the perpetrators go through legal proceedings in accordance with the existing [laws]," Herdiansyah said. (nal)