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Indonesian activists urge govt to draft strict anti-rape bill
Publication Date : 07-12-2013
Dozens of activists from different NGOs from a number of cities staged a rally at the Yogyakarta Ground Zero area on Friday, demanding the government draw up an anti-rape bill due to the high number of rapes in the country.
Wearing traditional attire, the activists who came from Yogyakarta and the neighbouring Central Java towns of Surakarta, Wonosobo and Magelang, also called on society to pay more attention to the issue of rape.
Quoting data from the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan), Rina Widarsih of the Rifka Annisa Women’s Crisis Center (WCC) said that there were 4,845 cases of rapes from 1998 – 2010 committed across Indonesia.
“The real figure I believe is much higher because many cases are not reported,” Rina said.
Based on reports filed with Rifka Annisa, she said, there were 131 rape cases and 71 sexual harassment cases in Yogyakarta from 2009 - 2012. This year alone, from January to September, there were 32 cases of rape and 10 of sexual harassment.
The victims, Rina said, were mostly girls often between 14 and 16 years old. “Some were even only 3 years old,” Rina said, adding that in many cases, the blame was put on the victims.
“Parts of the community still view rape as caused by the women themselves rather than as a form of violence and crime,” Rina said.
Therefore, she continued, it was urgent for the House of Representatives to produce a specific law on rape because the Criminal Code was not effective in preventing rape.
Another activist, Thontowi, also of Rifka Annisa, said that the sentences given to rapists were too lenient and thus did not act as a deterrent. “A rape victim could die or experience trauma for the rest of her life,” he said, adding that the state needed a new law to provide greater protection to rape victims.
He also expressed concern over the fact that schools frequently expelled students who became pregnant due to rape.
Thontowi insisted that rape victims who got pregnant had the right to access education.
“We also call on the community not to consider rape victims as somehow disgraced. They are victims who need protection,” he said.
Separately, Puteri of the Yogyakarta Women’s Network (JPY) lamented the fact that few legal institutions could properly handle rape cases.
NGOs participating in Friday’s rally included Rifka Annisa WCC, Kinasih Women’s Solidarity, Magelang Woman’s Friend and the Centre for Women, Difable and Kids Advocacy (SABDA).
Carrying posters expressing their demands, the demonstrators also sent a petition to the Ministry of Education and Culture, calling on the institution to pay serious attention to the issue of rape.