Indonesia passes new sexual violence law amid rising cases

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – Indonesia’s parliament on Tuesday approved far-reaching legislation establishing punishment for sexual violence after acting in a recent case in which the principal of an Islamic boarding school raped several students. and got them pregnant.

The law had been dormant for years amid arguments that it has a liberal feminist ideology that violates religious and cultural values ​​in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

The law recognizes that men and children can be victims of sexual violence. The Criminal Code of Indonesia, a legacy of the Dutch colonial era. It only recognizes rape and obscene crimes committed by men against women and does not provide for compensation or other remedies for victims and survivors.

Nine forms of sexual violence are recognized in the law: physical and non-sexual harassment, sexual assault, forced contraception, forced sterilization, forced marriage, sexual slavery, sexual abuse and cyber sexual harassment.

In addition to accepting sexual violence as punishable criminal acts, the law has provisions for protection and recovery for victims.

Of the nine political parties in the House, only the conservative Muslim-based Prosperous Justice Party, known as the PKS, rejected it because they wanted the bill to prohibit extramarital sex and homosexual relations.

“Our rejection is part of our struggle to fight for the prohibition and punishment of perpetrators of adultery and sexual deviation, which are ultimately not included in the bill,” said Al Muzamil Yusuf, a PKS legislator.

The law was passed a week after the Indonesian High Court sentenced an Islamic boarding school principal to death for raping at least 13 students over five years and impregnating some of them. Many of the girls, aged 11 and 14, were raped over the years, sparking outrage about how they had not been caught earlier.

In January President Joko Widodo appealed to the House of Representatives to expedite deliberations on the sexual violence bill as it has languished in the legislature since 2016 after critics told lawmakers “no sense of crisis”.

“The safety of victims of sexual violence should be our common concern, which deserves immediate attention,” Widodo said.

Under the new law, perpetrators of electronic-based sexual violence could face up to 4 years in prison and a fine of 200 million rupees ($13,920), and up to 6 years and 300 million rupees ($20,880) if it was committed with purpose. leads to extortion, coercion and even defrauding victims. Perpetrators of sexual abuse face up to 15 years in prison and fines of 1 billion rupees ($69,600).

The law also mandates that a trust fund and recovery services be established and regulated by the government to help victims recover.

The bill was initiated by the National Commission on Violence Against Women in 2012, and called for it to be fast-tracked after the shocking gang rape and murder of a 13-year-old schoolgirl by 14 drunken men in Bangalore in 2016 . This soon stalled due to resistance from the PKS and Islamic groups.

The latest draft received majority support when provisions for rape and forced abortion were dropped from the bill to avoid overlapping with proposals to amend the Criminal Code.

Government data shows that at least 797 children were victims of sexual violence in January alone, or 9.13% of total child victims in 2021, reaching 8,730, a 25% increase from 2020. As of 2020, it has registered 45,069 cases of sexual violence against girls and women. Since the drafting of the Bill in 2012.


Associated Press writer Edna Tarigan contributed to this report.

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