TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - THE National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) is seeing a surge in domestic violence since the Covid-19 pandemic struck the country. Violence not only involves physical, but also psychological, sexual to economic abuses. Komnas Perempuan did in fact predict at the onset of the pandemic the impending spike in cases. "There would be increased domestic abuse cases albeit anomalies in reporting," Komnas Perempuan Chief Andy Yentriyani said during a special interview with Tempo on August 31.
During the period January-May of this year, the commission received more than 900 reports compared to around 100 reports per month the previous year. Yentriyani also highlighted the data reading method which focused on comparing the year-to-year cases. She said the method should instead compare the number of reported cases against the resolved cases including at court, while adding that the mechanism for resolving domestic abuse cases in court had not been optimal to this date.
According to the commission’s records, only less than 30 percent of reported rape cases reached court. The commission is currently exploring ways to solicit the participation of other law-enforcement institutions such as the prosecution, police and judiciary to reexamine the incoming data starting at the first level up till the prosecution. "The justice system in Indonesia is still unable to listen well to victims," said Ani as she is familiarly called.
Yentriyani received Tempo reporters Mahardika Satria Hadi, Abdul Manan, and Nur Alfiyah at her Central Jakarta office for this interview, during which she also talked about the importance of having the sexual violence elimination bill endorsed. In addition to protecting sexual violence victims, the draft law aims at increasing effectiveness in case of resolution through report monitoring.
What is the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic most felt by women?
At the start of the pandemic, Komnas Perempuan has focused its attention on two things, the pandemic's impact on women and the vulnerability of women exposed to the virus, and the response policies. Data show that the majority of working women work in the service sector as frontline staff such as receptionists, customer service staff, bank tellers, etc.
How about those working in the sector more susceptible to the virus such as the health care sector?
We also pay attention to health care personnel. Besides doctors, many nurses and other health care staff are women. As well as those working in offices and factories where protection for women has not been optimal. They have a high chance of getting infected when working in a place with inadequate health standards. In a family, when family members are sickened with Covid, the burden of taking care of the patient usually falls on female family members, increasing their chance of getting infected.
How big is the impact of pandemic-related policies on women?
The large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) which come with the learn-from-home and work-from-home regulations, for instance, caused a lot of hassle to women who have school-age children. Since online schools don't always give a chance to kids to comprehend the lessons or homework, mothers are advised to accompany their kids. Our online survey from April to May recorded that one out of three female respondents said that their daily work hours increased by more than three hours. Although both women and men help with kids' homework, women feel more stress than men. The situation becomes even tenser for families with pre-existing problems when they are confined to the same place for a long period of time.
The tension becomes a source of abuse?
Correct. Based on our survey, there is less tension among couples over the age of 40 with kids approaching adulthood. Meanwhile, tensions are high among couples of below 30 with young children, earning less than five million a month, and facing layoff due to the pandemic. Respondents also said that they increasingly experienced abuse, particularly psychological violence such as quarrels. Many international forums also say that domestic violence peaks during the pandemic with more cases being reported.