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Jakarta Post

Speedy passing of jobs law contrasted with stalled sexual violence bill

  • Rizki Fachriansyah
    Rizki Fachriansyah

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, October 8, 2020   /   08:05 am
Speedy passing of jobs law contrasted with stalled sexual violence bill Activists and members of the public protest in front of the House of Representatives complex in Central Jakarta on Sept. 17, 2019 to demand lawmakers pass the long-awaited sexual violence eradication bill (JP/Anggie Angela)

The speedy passing of the controversial Job Creation Law has angered women’s rights activists and members of the public who have long awaited the enactment of the sexual violence eradication bill, the deliberation of which has been stalled for years at the House of Representatives.

National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) commissioner Andy Yentriyani told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that the sexual violence eradication bill had gone through a bumpy road over the past several years – in stark contrast to the omnibus law’s smooth sailing.

“The deliberation of the sexual violence eradication bill began years ago in 2014, but the process has since continued at a snail’s pace,” Andy said.

“It makes us wonder whether the government is really committed to bringing justice to the victims of sexual violence in this country.”

She went on to say that the government and lawmakers appeared to have deliberately overlooked social justice issues currently plaguing the country by putting the omnibus law above other draft legislation that many deem more important for the public welfare, including the sexual violence eradication bill.

“With the omnibus law, the government was most enticed by its economic incentives,” Andy added.

In July, the House of Representatives excluded the sexual violence eradication bill from this year’s National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) priority list, citing difficulties in arranging the bill’s deliberation.

Read also: ‘Take all the time in the world to heal’: Agni’s message for victims of sexual assault

House Commission VIII deputy chairman Marwan Dasopang previously claimed the deliberation of the bill was “complicated”.

In stark contrast, the House Legislation Body (Baleg) revealed that the deliberation of the Job Creation Law took place effectively from April 20 until Oct. 3 before the bill was passed into law on Monday. Lawmakers and the government held intensive meetings over the past months, even on weekends, to expedite the deliberation.

Komnas Perempuan has called for the sexual violence eradication bill to be included in the 2021 Prolegnas, urging lawmakers to exert as much effort in the bill’s deliberation as in the passing of the omnibus law.

Legislation that sides with the victims of sexual violence is vital, especially given that Komnas Perempuan received at least 46,698 reports of sexual abuse cases against girls and women between 2011 and 2019, according to the commission.

“There is no excuse. The House must work hard to ensure the fairest law that protects and fulfills the rights of sexual abuse victims,” Andy told the Post.

Eva Nur Cahyani of the Women’s Movement Alliance also demanded the House immediately deliberate the sexual violence eradication bill. "The refusal to deliberate the bill means that [the House] has turned a blind eye to victims of sexual abuse, the number of which has continuously increased every year," she said as quoted by kompas.com.

Members of the public have echoed a similar sentiment since the passing of the controversial jobs law as they took to social media to lament the interminable deliberation of the sexual violence eradication bill and condemned the government for putting their effort into rushing through the omnibus law instead.

“[The sexual violence eradication bill] has never been passed into law, whereas the omnibus law was completed very quickly. It’s obvious where [the government’s] priority lies,” Twitter handle @putriaftrni tweeted on Monday.

Comedian Ardit Erwandha tweeted satirical remarks encouraging the government and lawmakers to keep turning a blind eye to public welfare as the omnibus law was completed at the expense of the sexual violence eradication bill.

“Omnibus law was passed, while the sexual violence eradication bill remains ignored. […] Don’t think about our welfare, prioritize your interests,” @ArditErwandha wrote in the tweet.