Alarming saga of violence against women and children

Alarming saga of violence against women and children

Illustration and theatrical acts of Anti Violence Against Women and Children in Aceh. (ANTARA PHOTOS/Rahmad/my)

If (you ask), we are disappointed. Of course, we are disappointed, as the public has awaited this (the bill), and this is a very urgent need of the people
The year 2021 was replete with reports of violence against women and children, with the direst aspect being the perpetrators were predominantly the victims' families, closest people, or those whom they knew.

One such infamous case was that involving the rapes of 12 students in an Islamic boarding school in Bandung, West Java. HW, the perpetrator, who was also the owner and teacher of the school, used coercion to conduct his heinous acts. Some of the rape victims had gotten pregnant.

HW committed such acts over the course of five years, from 2016 to 2021, at several places that include two of the Islamic boarding schools he managed, hotels, and apartments.

Committee on the Elimination of Violence Against Women pointed to a significant increase in the frequency of reported violent acts during the year.

Head of Committee on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Andy Yentriyani, noted that as many as 1,967 cases were reported to them during the period from January to June 2021, an increase by 57 percent from the corresponding period last year.

Nonetheless, the increase reported was not directly proportional to the ability of special institutions to cater to the needs of women, who were the victims in these cases.

Another notorious case was that of NWR from Mojokerto, East Java. She once reported to the Committee in mid-August of 2021. However, the matter had yet to be handled due to limited human resources and a pile-up of other cases.

Eventually, she ended her own life on December 2, 2021. Her body was found by her father's grave.

Yentriyani deemed NWR's case as a major eye-opener and cause for concern, thereby signaling the lack of service for women, who were victims of violence.

Amp up Monitoring

Women's Empowerment and Children Protection Minister, Bintang Puspayoga, called on regional governments to facilitate comprehensive handling of cases of violence against women and children.

"Monitoring and evaluation are important. How much have related stakeholders overseen (things)? Do not be like firefighters (who only came to resolve matters when incidents have already occurred). In such cases, we must take care of it from the start (nipping matters in the bud and the root causes). Hence, prevention has become important," she opined.

The minister urged regional leaders to not look away from cases of violence against women and children. Hence, she lauded regional governments that had overseen the cases until their completion.

SAPA 19 service

The ministry launched a service -- Women and Children's Friends Platform (SAPA 129) -- on March 8, 2021, to provide access to women, who endured violence, and children in need of special protection.

The service can be accessed through phone number 129. Alternatively, people can send a short message to 08111129129.

The platform aims to fix the reporting system as well as to create an integrated service for handling reports of violence.

"One-stop services should be established for handling violence in an immediate, integrated, and comprehensive manner in addition to employing law enforcement processes and providing social rehabilitation and social reintegration services," Deputy for the Protection of Women's Rights at the Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry, Ratna Susianawati, remarked.

SAPA 129 is also expected to be a service that aids efforts to address issues of women, who fell victims to violence, and require interregional and international coordination.

Pending Anti Sexual Violence Bill

A proper law is deemed necessary to function as a foundation or basis to take action against perpetrators of violence against women and children.

The Draft Law on the Crime of Sexual Violence (RUU TPKS) is a bill that has been long-awaited by several people, as it could be the answer or solution to tackle the rampant cases of violence.

Yet the bill did not make it to the House of Representatives' plenary meeting on Thursday, December 16. Their decision to not include it disappointed many.

"If (you ask), we are disappointed. Of course, we are disappointed, as the public has awaited this (the bill), and this is a very urgent need of the people," Deputy Chair of the Legislation Body at the House of Representatives, Willy Aditya, emphasized.

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However, Aditya did not want to give in to his disappointment and stressed that he would continue his fight until the bill became a law.

"I am still optimistic (about the ratification of the Anti Sexual Violence Bill), as it is only a matter of time. I will attempt to discuss it with the leadership of the House, so that this bill can be finalized during the next year's session," he accentuated.

On the other hand, the Committee on the Elimination of Violence Against Women has called on the House of Representatives and the government to immediately ratify the bill on account of Indonesia being in a state of emergency due to rampant incidents of sexual violence.

"With the spirit of the women's movement on December 22, 1928, on Mother's Day, the Committee on the Elimination of Violence Against Women recommends and calls on the House of Representatives and the government to immediately ratify the Anti Sexual Violence Bill, which has been demanded by the civil public movement for the last nine years," Yentriyani affirmed.

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Yentriyani also sought everyone's attention to continuously monitor the discussion process in the House of Representatives and continue to push for the government to ratify the bill as a means to create a sense of justice for women victims.

Moreover, she compelled educational institutions to respond immediately and appropriately to the creation of progressive policies that have been issued by the Religious Affairs Ministry and the Education, Culture, Research, and Technology Ministry by developing policies to prevent and handle sexual violence in campuses and other educational environments.

The number of cases of violence against women and children is increasing with each passing day owing to the advancements in communication technology, especially social media.

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The revelation of these cases is something to be grateful for, as the victims have become more courageous in exposing the perpetrators. Nonetheless, at the same time, it is a matter of major concern that these crimes are still taking place.

The bill should be ratified immediately, so that the perpetrators of violence against women and children can be meted out appropriate punishments to act as a deterrent effect to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents in future.

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