Saturday, 19 January 2019

Sexual Harassment on the Rise: Report

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  • Illustration of sexual harassment. credit:

    Illustration of sexual harassment. credit:

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta -  Sexual harassment against women continues to rise, according to data from various agencies.

    Veni Oktarini Siregar, director of Legal Aid Institute for Indonesian Women Association for Justice (LBH APIK) Jakarta, said that his agency receives dozens of reports of sexual harassment against women. However, only a few were taken to court. “Many women refuse to file a report because they were disappointed,” she told Tempo last week.

    The National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) also reports 259,150 cases of violence against women in 2016, some 3,495 of which are domestic sexual harassment and 2,290 were sexual abuse at the community or workplace.

    Veni said that the community has yet to see violence against women as a crucial issue. People are more concerned about politics, labor issue and corruption. She said that there are consequences of not taking sexual harassment seriously. Women who are victims of such cases often feel shame and were traumatized as well as being marginalized due to victim-blaming attitude. “No one believes that somebody has committed a sexual assault in a public space,” Veni said.

    At court, Veni said that it is not easy to prove sex offenses. Police typically demand some evidence and witnesses that are often missing. Of 27 reports received by LBH APIK this year, only one was being processed at court. “Still, the case was in 2015,” she said.

    Moreover, Veni also criticized Indonesia’s criminal law that does not recognize sexual abuse. The Criminal Code (KUHP) only refers to sexual abuse as ‘crime against morality’. “The use of the term blurs the basic issue of sex offenses,” she said.

    The lack of punishment against perpetrators may trigger repeated offenses. A workers’ association secretary-general Jumisih pointed to an example that sexual abuse happened repeatedly in a company based in Jakarta. “There were more than one perpetrator and some did it repeatedly,” he said.

    Women’s organization Perempuan Mahardhika has called on companies to have standard operating procedures in place for sexual harassment. National secretary Mutiara Ika Pratiwi said that sexual abuse experienced by women may have an impact on their productivity. “Companies should not only think about profit but also comfort,” she said.