The DPR has removed the Sexual Violence Bill from the agenda for deliberations this year. This ignores the urgency and aspirations of the victims.
THE removal of these Sexual Violence Bill from the 2020 National Legislative Program agenda shows the foolishness of our politicians. In determining the priorities for passing laws, the members of the House of Representatives (DPR) and the government feel free to ignore the aspirations of the people, including victims.
The passing of the sexual violence bill is a matter of considerable urgency. Civil organizations have been pushing for this bill since 2016, not long after a 13-year-old girl was raped and murdered by 14 youths in Bengkulu. Since then, the increase in cases of sexual violence has become more concerning, and is now increasing by an average of 13 percent per year. According to the latest figures from the National Commission on Violence Against Women, in 2019 there were 4,898 cases of sexual violence in private and in the community.
After an extended period of lobbying, the Sexual Violence Bill was subsequently turned into a DPR initiative in 2017. The draft law covers crimes related to a range of violence such as rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage and domestic abuse. It also covers protection for the rights of victims when violence has already occurred. This guarantee of the safety of victims is particularly important because the majority of cases of violence have not come to light as victims have lacked the lacked the courage to report them.
From the outset, the Sexual Violence Bill attracted opposition from conservative Islamist politicians. In the DPR, there has been open opposition from the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) Faction. Politicians from this party claim that the Sexual Violence Bill will legalize extramarital sex, same-sex relations, and abortion. They have also promoted the opinion that the bill will criminalize critics of promiscuity, despite the fact that not a single article in the bill mentions this.
The problem is that politicians from parties that have claimed to be liberal, secular or pluralist have not been serious in their efforts to pass the bill. For example, almost nothing has been heard from politicians from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). The same is true for other factions that support the government despite the fact they far outnumber the conservative Islamist group. Of the 26 members of the Sexual Violence Bill Working Committee, only two are from the PKS. Recently, even nationalist secular parties have been expressing the same opinion as the conservative Islamic parties.
The excuse by the working committee that the deliberations of the Sexual Violence Bill cannot be continued because no agreement has been reached sound contrived. This is a reflection of the laziness and lack of care of the politicians towards the victims. Compare this with their enthusiasm to deliberate the Revised Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Law, the Mineral and Coal Mining Law and the draft Job Creation omnibus law. For example, the Revised KPK Law was completed in 12 days last September despite the fact that outside the DPR Building people were expressing strong opposition to this revised law that emasculated the anti-corruption agency.
It is now understandable that people believe that the DPR is only keen on passing laws that benefit politicians or bills that are supported by ‘financial backers’. Therefore, the Sexual Violence Bill, which had no ‘sponsors’, was unlucky, despite the fact that it is so desperately needed by the public and victims. When the official way to convey their aspirations to the DPR building is blocked, do not blame the people if they once again take to the streets in large numbers.