Stop Sexual Violence Now
The person allegedly responsible for a sexual offense in Jombang intimidated the victim and her supporters. A sexual violence eradication law is needed.
INTIMIDATION towards an alleged victim of a sexual offense and her supporters in Jombang, East Java, further underlines the need for a sexual violence eradication law. The delays to the passing of the law by the House of Representatives (DPR) have made it more difficult for victims to obtain justice.
Claiming there was insufficient evidence, the Jombang police halted the investigation into the alleged sexual offence reported by the victim in 2018. This excuse provided ammunition for the alleged perpetrator, son of a popular religious figure in the city, to launch counter accusations against the victim. He believes that the police report is no more than defamation. He brought out his supporters to intimidate the victim and her supporters.
The incident in Jombang shows how difficult it is for victims of sexual crimes to obtain justice. Victims are threatened with intimidation by the people they report. In a number of cases, the perpetrators have in turn reported the victims for defamation. The police then processed these reports, including using the Electronic Information and Transactions Law. Matters are made worse for victims who suffer psychological injuries and deep trauma.
For victim of sexual violence, the process of obtaining justice is complicated. Even making accusations against perpetrators causes further problems. They still have to testify and convince the judges using formal evidence. Meanwhile the Criminal Code does not include a ‘protect first, then try’ mechanism.
A sexual violence eradication law is needed because it prioritizes the restorative principle to protect victims from the criminal investigation until rehabilitation. Without a law that can protect victims of rape or a judicial mechanism for perpetrators, sexual crimes are often seen as a personal matter. They are usually resolved in a ‘peaceful and familial’ way that leaves the victim the loser.
Pressure on victims is greater if the perpetrator is from a respected family, as is the case in Jombang. Because the alleged perpetrator of the sexual offense is the son of a cleric respected by local people, the victim had to accept ‘familial’ resolution in the form of financial compensation. The social status of the cleric and his family mobilized Islamic students to join in the intimidation of the victim and her supporters.
Indonesia needs to do better by producing a law that protects the victims of sexual violence. The #MeToo movement that gave victims of sexual violence the courage to speak out in the United States should serve as an example. Sexual violence should be brought out into the open through an impartial law. Without a law that sides with victims, sexual offences will always be seen as petty crimes.
It is not only women who are victims of sexual crimes. Anyone can be affected, no matter what their gender or age. The sexual violence eradication law will provide protection for victims and force the state to stop ignoring them.
The intimidation of the alleged sexual offense victim in Jombang is a loud wake up call. According to the National Commission on Violence against Women, threats of sexual offenses often come from those close to the victim or respected people. The commission recorded 299,991 sexual offenses last year—a figure that should make us realize that Indonesia needs a sexual crimes eradication law now.