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Tue Feb 12, 2019, 12:12 PM

Indonesia sexual violence bill sparks conservative opposition Proposed draft legislation aiming to

(FUCK all the damned patriarchal belief systems that devalue and hate women)

Indonesia sexual violence bill sparks conservative opposition

Proposed draft legislation aiming to tackle sexual crimes stirs controversy in Indonesia ahead of April elections.

Activists holding a vigil for a teenage girl who was raped and murdered in 2016 [File: Dita Alangkara/AP]

Jakarta, Indonesia - Government efforts to tackle sexual violence in Indonesia have triggered a backlash from conservative religious groups and others claiming the proposed law violates Muslim values, puts too much emphasis on women's rights and promotes sex outside marriage. Backed by an aggressive social media campaign, an online petition calling for parliament to reject the Draft Law on the Elimination of Sexual Violence has been signed by almost 150,000 people since its launch two weeks ago. "Forced sexual activities will be chargeable offences [under the law], even if it's a wife rejecting her husband's advances. Yet consensual sex, even if it's outside of marriage, will be permissible," Maimon Herawati, the campaign's creator, wrote in the petition.

The draft law defines forms of sexual violence that are not covered under existing legislation, such as sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and forced prostitution. It is designed to make the criminal justice system more supportive of women reporting such crimes. But critics reject the bill saying it implies any consensual sexual activity, including homosexuality, is acceptable because it does not specify that sex should only take place within a marriage.

'Indonesia facing a crisis'

The proposed legislation has been under development since 2014, led by the National Commission for the Elimination of Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) in consultation with legal experts, women's groups, academics and government ministries. Yet, amid growing opposition, the bill remains unratified, prompting activists' concerns it might be derailed altogether if it is not adopted before the mostly Muslim archipelago holds elections in April. In such a scenario, the discussion process would have to start from the beginning.
"For Indonesian women, prosperity means being free from all forms of violence, including sexual violence," the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection said in a statement last month. "Sexual violence is a serious problem, causing trauma for victims and their families. They need [to be supported] in their rights to truth, justice, and rehabilitation."

Komnas Perempuan says that of the 13,384 cases of violence against women reported to its service partners in 2017, more than two-thirds (71 percent) took place in intimate relationships. One-third of those involved sexual violence. In public settings, Komnas said, just over three quarters of the cases involved sexual violence. Rights groups say the number of victims is likely to be much higher because many women do not report such cases out of fear. Ratna Batara Munti, the coordinator of the Pro-Women's Legislation Program Working Group, says cases of sexual violence and harassment have been increasing in the past five years. "Indonesia is facing a crisis of sexual violence," she told Al Jazeera, citing the 2016 rape and murder of a 14-year-old and the 2018 jailing of a 37-year-old woman for documenting sexual harassment.

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