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Jakarta Post

Female lawmakers to involve religious groups in bid to pass sexual violence bill

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, August 14, 2020   /   09:30 am
Female lawmakers to involve religious groups in bid to pass sexual violence bill Flower boards urging the House of Representatives to pass the sexual violence eradication bill are displayed on Oct. 5, 2019 at the front gate of the legislative complex in Jakarta. (JP/Angie Angela)

The Legislative Women’s Caucus (KPP-RI) plans to engage religious organizations as campaigners in an effort to push the House of Representatives to pass the long-awaited sexual violence eradication bill into law.

"They can come from any religion, be it Islam or not Islam. It's time for religious organizations to take a part in the struggle," KPP-RI general-secretary Luluk Nur Hamidah said as quoted by kompas.com on Wednesday.

The KPP-RI is currently preparing strategies to include the bill in next year's National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) priority list, after being excluded from the 2020 list at the instigation of conservative elements in the House.

In addition to involving religious group members in the fight to endorse the bill, the KPP-RI also plans to lobby leaders of various political parties to support the deliberation of the bill next year.

Luluk said it aimed to gather five members of each political party faction at the House to join in proposing that the bill be included in next year's Prolegnas. She is hopeful that a number of factions will join in the efforts.

Lawmakers excluded the bill from the 2020 priority list during a meeting of the House Legislation Body (Baleg) in late May, claiming the deliberation of the bill was "complicated". Activists bristled at the excuse, describing it as lazy and ignorant, as data showed high rates of sexual violence persisted in the country.

Perpetrators of sexual violence are usually charged under the Criminal Code (KUHP), which is the product of colonial legislation, which activists claim is insufficient to accommodate the needs of citizens for security and freedom from various forms of sexual violence.

The sexual violence eradication bill, if passed, would add forms of admissible evidence, such as victim statements, psychological reports, electronic information and other documents that provide an opportunity for the victim to meet evidentiary requirements – all of which are absent from the prevailing KUHP.

While a number of Islamic organizations, including Nahdlatul Ulama's (NU) women wing, Fatayat NU, voicing support for the bill, some more conservative Muslim groups, such as the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) faction at the House, have apparently expressed their opposition to the bill.

Those who oppose it argue that the main problem of the bill is that it fails to include adultery as a sexual crime and therefore the bill, by omission, allows consensual sex outside of marriage and at the same time potentially criminalizes a husband who has sex with his wife without her consent.

The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), which helped in the drafting of the bill, has rejected these criticisms and says that the bill is merely aimed at eradicating sexual violence.

The bill was first proposed in 2016 after the gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in Bengkulu. (vny)