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Jakarta Post

More voices call for passing of sexual violence eradication bill

  • Tri Indah Oktavianti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, November 6, 2020   /   01:47 pm
More voices call for passing of sexual violence eradication bill Students and activists participate in a rally against sexual violence in front of the Education and Culture Ministry on Feb. 10. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

Activists, influencers and a cosmetic brand have urged the government to immediately approve the sexual violence eradication bill through an online petition launched on Thursday.

Feminist publication Magdalene.co and trauma counseling foundation Yayasan Pulih worked together with comedian Bintang Emon and actress Hannah al-Rashid, as well as The Body Shop Indonesia to initiate online campaign #tbsfightforsisterhood to increase awareness on rampant sexual violence in the country.

“As a feminist brand, The Body Shop Indonesia feels the urgency to fight for women’s rights. This year we launched the campaign ‘All care, All will be protected’ #tbsfightforsisterhood to urge the approval of the sexual violence eradication bill,” Aryo Widiwardhono, CEO of The Body Shop Indonesia, said during a webinar Thursday.

According to Aryo, the company employs more than 1,300 people across the nation, with 86 percent of them being women. He added that awareness had been raised among employees on why the bill was an important matter to fight for.

“Under the philosophy that says business can be a force for good, we would like to become a business platform that not only makes you feel good and look good but we are also doing good [in fighting social injustice],” he added.

The term “femvertising”, marketing that focuses on feminism and women’s empowerment, is relatively new in Indonesia. Thus, the company said that it hoped to motivate other brands to take the same step.

“We have 3 million customers coming into our shops each year, so we have the opportunity to talk to those millions of customers and visitors,” Owner and the executive chairwoman of the company, Suzy Hutomo said, pointing out why femvertising can be very strategic in supporting the social feminist movement in the country.

Speaking in the webinar, Hannah also highlighted how the bill would further justice for victims of sexual abuse. In Indonesia, she said, many women victims chose not to file reports of sexual abuse due to the sexist and patriarchal culture that placed the blame on women.

“When the bill was dropped from the National Legislation Program [Prolegnas], it was a slap to our face, victims of sexual abuse. It was as if we didn't deserve healing and justice. So, that’s why we have to keep moving forward with this issue,” she said.

On sexism in everyday life, Bintang Emon shared his experience as a young man in his 20s, when he was often told that he was not “not tough” by male friends for being against catcalling. 

“I have sisters whom I can’t look after 24 hours a day. The bill ensures the safety that I want for my sisters,” he said.

A 2019 report by the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) showed that at least 35 women and girls were sexually abused every day between 2001 and 2011. The report accounts for 406,178 cases of sexual violence against women, 14 percent higher from those reported in 2018.

The deliberation of the bill began in 2014 but the process has continued at a snail’s pace despite mounting public demand to approve the bill.

In July, the House of Representatives Legislation Body officially dropped the bill from this year’s Prolegnas priority list, citing the bill as being “too complicated”.