Passing the Hot Potato
The DPR further delayed deliberations on the Sexual Violence Eradication Bill. There is concern this will threaten the fate of women and victims of sexual violence.
THERE was a flurry of activity in the Maju Perempuan Indonesia (MPI—Onward Indonesian Women ) WhatsApp group on Tuesday, June 30. The members of the group, which consist of nearly all of the female members of the House of Representatives (DPR) and some women’s rights activists, were discussing a question put forward by Dian Kartikasari. “I asked why the DPR dropped the (deliberations on the) Sexual Violence Eradication Bill (RUU PKS),” said the Secretary-General of the Coalition of Indonesian Women when contacted by Tempo on July 10.
Similar questions have been asked by representatives of other organizations. Even though some DPR members responded, Dian was not satisfied with their answers. She was disappointed with the DPR’s decision to discontinue deliberations on the bill this year. This is the second time she has been disappointed. Before this, this draft was also dropped during the DPR’s 2014-2019 term of office. Dian and her colleagues believe that this important to immediately pass this bill in order to guarantee protection for the victims of violence.
That day, in a coordination meeting of DPR’s Legislation Body and commission leaders, it was decided that the Sexual Violence Eradication Bill be put on the list of 12 draft regulations dropped from the 2020 National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) priority. That bill will be added to next year’s program. Supratman Andi Agtas, chairman of the Legislation Body, said that this was done based on a motion by Commission VIII, which deals with matters of religion, social affairs, women’s empowerment, and child protection. “We are thankful that it could be dropped, as this reduces the burden on the legislation program,” said this politician from the Grand Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party.
According to him, the House will only be in session for three more months for this period, and it will be impossible to deliberate more bills. At the end of March, Commission VIII sent a letter to the Legislation Body, saying that no common ground had been found on the Sexual Violence Eradication Bill and no progress had been made. “Such that it has become a burden on the legislation program in Commission VIII.” This commission preferred to deliberate the Disaster Relief Bill and the Elderly Social Welfare Bill.
Commission VIII Deputy Chairman Ace Hasan Syadzily said that the Sexual Violence Eradication Bill was dropped because the Legislation Body only allowed two bills to be added to the 2020 Prolegnas. This Golkar Party politician said that the Disaster Relief Bill was a priority because Indonesia is currently facing a coronavirus epidemic. The Elderly Social Welfare Bill is needed to regulate the management of nursing homes and activities for senior citizens.
...the criminal punishments included in the bill are not yet in line with the Criminal Code Bill. Even though the Sexual Violence Eradication Bill is to govern specific subject matter (lex specialis), its legal standard must still refer back to criminal law. Yasonna Laoly does not want the bill to have to be revised later on if the penalties for the perpetrators of sex crimes are not in line with criminal law.
Two days later, on July 2, the government supported dropping the Sexual Violence Eradication Bill from the priority program. In all, there were 16 bills which were dropped from the priority list. Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Hamonangan Laoly said that the dropping of the Sexual Violence Eradication Bill was approved by all political factions. “It requires further deliberation and deeper examination because there is still a lot of debate over it,” said this politician from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Yasonna said that one debate over the Sexual Violence Eradication Bill has to do with criminal punishments. According to him, the criminal punishments included in the bill are not yet in line with the Criminal Code Bill. Even though the Sexual Violence Eradication Bill is to govern specific subject matter (lex specialis), its legal standard must still refer back to criminal law. Yasonna does not want the bill to have to be revised later on if the penalties for the perpetrators of sex crimes are not in line with criminal law.
Some House members in the Legislation Body and Commission VIII contacted by Tempo said that the Sexual Violence Eradication Bill is a ‘hot potato’. They are following in the footsteps of DPR members of the previous term, who failed to pass that bill. Commission VIII Deputy Chairman Marwan Dasopang verified the news that the deliberations on that bill have not gone smoothly in his commission. “Some factions have rejected it,” said the National Awakening Party (PKB) politician. One of them is the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) Faction. In February, PKS Faction Chairman Jazuli Juwaini said that they were against this bill. He claimed that the the bill is at odds with religion and the five principles of Pancasila.
Despite having been dropped from the priority program, some factions has said that they are still going to attempt to have that bill put on next year’s legislation program. Diah Pitaloka, a member of Commission VIII from the PDI-P Faction, said that their side is going to make changes to the bill’s draft and academic paper. After that, the PDI-P will push for the Sexual Violence Eradication Bill this coming October, when it comes time to decide on priority legislation for 2021.
Taufik Basari, Chairman of the National Democrat (NasDem) Faction in the Legislation Body, said the same thing. Claiming that this bill was proposed by the NasDem Faction, he said that he was going to raise support from other factions after the new academic paper and draft are completed.
These promises from legislators have not appeased the disappointment of women and children’s rights activists. The number of violent incidents against women and children continues to rise. Last March, The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) stated that there were 431,471 cases of violence against women which occurred in 2019. This is a 6 percent increase over last year, when there were 406,178 cases. Mariana Amiruddin, a commissioner at Komnas Perempuan, said that over the past 12 years violence against women has increased nearly 800 percent. “The condition of women in Indonesia is far from a feeling of safety,” she said.
Dian Kartikasari, secretary-general of the Coalition of Indonesian Women, said that the articles in the Sexual Violence Eradication Bill are oriented towards the victims of sexual violence. She cited Article 45 Paragraph 1 of that bill, which says that the testimony of a victim can be used as evidence to indict a perpetrator of sexual violence. This provision is more progressive compared to that which is found in the Criminal Code, where it states that the testimony of witness is insufficient to prove the accused is guilty.
The bill, she said, also regulates the matter of domestic and marital rape. Sexual violence is defined as including violence in the scope of personal and domestic relations. Nine types of criminal acts of sexual violence are mentioned, including molestation, sexual exploitation, forced use of contraceptives, abortion, rape, forced marriage, and sexual torture. Criminal law does not have such definitions.
Siti Aminah Tardi, a commissioner at the Komnas Perempuan, considers that the longer it takes to pass this bill, the more danger women are being exposed to. “According to us, the difficulties in the deliberations have been caused by the lack of political will to give justice to the victims,” she said.