Netizens Start Petition Rejecting Criminalization of Adultery in Penal Code Revisions

Indonesians concerned with current revisions of the criminal code are rallying support through an online petition, demanding that the House of Representatives reconsider problematic morality articles in the draft. (JG Screenshot)

By : Sheany | on 12:07 PM January 31, 2018
Category : Crime, Editor's Choice, Featured, Human Rights

Jakarta. Indonesians concerned with current revisions of the criminal code are rallying support through an online petition, demanding that the House of Representatives reconsider problematic morality articles in the draft.

"We are women, housewives, workers, students, activists, survivors of sexual violence with great concerns on the attempt to criminalize citizens’ privacy in ongoing discussions of the revisions on the criminal code at the parliament," read the petition, which started on Monday (29/01).

The petition raised concerns about the extension of criminalizing zina, or adultery, to all extramarital sex.

The current criminal code already criminalizes adultery, but it is only applicable to sex between a married person and a person who is not their spouse. Article 484 of the draft states that a man and a woman not bound by a "legitimate marriage" could face up to five years in prison if they have sexual intercourse.

This also falls under a complaint offense, and can be reported by spouses or "any concerned third party." The article does not contain a clear definition of the third party, prompting concerns that it could be interpreted loosely.

The petition highlighted that such provisions will "increase persecution and vigilante culture" in society.

"Citizens will compete to be a moral police and intervene on other people’s privacy. Raids in private spaces will become commonplace if this article is passed," it said.

Moreover, the provision also raised concerns among rape survivors, who are more likely to be reluctant and fearful to report rapists to the police.

"... If we cannot prove that the rape occurred, or that the rapist claim that the rape was based on mutual affection, we will be accused of adultery and sent to prison along with our rapist," it said.

Children who are victims of sexual exploitation can also be imprisoned under adultery, according to the new provision.

The same concerns have also been raised by the non-governmental organization Institute of Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), who also said that the draft revisions reflect tendencies for overcriminalization that could lead to violations of human rights.

The petition is calling on the parliament to remove articles that could potentially criminalize specific segments of the population, including women, couples married under a traditional or religious marriage.

Furthermore, it urges lawmakers to review the morality articles, pay attention to human rights and to open public participation to learn the experiences of women, children and indigenous minority groups.

By Wednesday morning, the petition was signed by more than 18,000 people.

Tunggal Pawestri, a human rights activist and one of the people behind the petition, told the Jakarta Globe in an email exchange that activists intend to meet with Commission III at the House in the near future to present them with the petition.

The House's Commission III oversees legal affairs.

"However, we also heard that the parliament will hold a meeting with the government on the 1st [of February] to make a final decision. We hope we still have time to directly present them with this petition," Tunggal said.

She also said that many citizens are not fully aware of the House’s discussions on these crucial articles on the revisions of the criminal code, even when they are "a threat and invasion to private spaces."

"The haste is awful, extremely unwise, and far from just, if parliament forces continue discussions of revisions of the criminal code without listening to the citizens," Tunggal said.

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