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Jakarta Post

‘It’s to prevent sexual violence’: UI clarifies, rebuffs criticism against consensual sex topic

  • Tri Indah Oktavianti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, September 17, 2020   /   10:17 am
‘It’s to prevent sexual violence’: UI clarifies, rebuffs criticism against consensual sex topic The University of Indonesia, Depok, West Java. (Wikimedia Commons/Ilham Kuniawan Gumilang)

The University of Indonesia (UI) has clarified and rebuffed criticism against the consensual sex subject taught in this year’s freshman orientation program (PKKMB UI), saying it was taught under the context of sexual harassment and not to promote casual sex.

“What has been circulating around was a single slide titled sexual consent and it has been linked to other concepts of sexual activities. [...] In fact, the subject given was about sexual violence and the purpose is to build awareness among students so that they can avoid and prevent sexual violence from happening,” UI’s secretary, Agustin Kusumayati, said during a virtual media briefing on Wednesday.

She argued that the subject part of the university’s response to rampant sexual abuse cases within the campus. 

She regretted that critics had disregarded the fact that the presentations consisted of several slides interconnected with each other and that each slide was further explained through verbal narration. 

The video presentation titled “E-Class: Preventing Sexual Violence” was uploaded through the UI student affairs directorate’s official YouTube channel as part of PKKMB UI, which ran from Sept. 7 to 11. 

The e-class presentation slides - narrated by Diana Teresa Pakasi from UI’s Gender and Sexuality Studies - explained that a sexual act was considered an act of violence if consent was not given by all parties involved. 

One presentation slide explained that pressuring someone into sexual activity by using fear or intimidation would fall under sexual violence, the narrator explained.

Read also: UI under fire for emphasizing consensual sex in sex-ed orientation video

The slide also suggested that consent should be given clearly and could not be determined through certain types of clothing, behavior or language. Furthermore, silence is not agreement. 

Previously, one particular slide circulating on social media was criticized by the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) lawmaker Almuzzamil Yusuf, who argued that UI’s “endorsement” of consensual sex could only lead to the prevalence of “casual sex” among the youth and, therefore, jeopardize the country’s moral and religious principles.

“[UI] feels that the Western notion of consensual sex is not a form of sexual violence. I don’t think it’s an appropriate subject to teach to students,” he said through a video posted on his Instagram account four days ago, claiming that it also violated Article 31 of the 1945 Constitution by undermining one’s faith and piety.

“The slide is indeed explaining consent but it was under the context of sexual violence,” Agustin, who also serves as a lecturer in the university’s public health department, rebutted.

“For example, we can talk about contraception pills under the context of health reproduction. But, if we don’t consider the context, a subject like contraception pills could be undermined into a campaign for casual sex as well.”

Nevertheless, Agustin said the university was committed to promoting values that were in line with the country’s moral principles. 

“I can’t say whether UI will continue to disseminate information about sexual consent to its students. But the context, purpose and values need to be clarified first upon talking about sexual consent,” she said.