Increased awareness and more widely available information about violence against women have encouraged more victims to speak up and report the abuse they have suffered, an expert says.
“It’s not that the number of the cases has drastically increased,” Irma Martam, a psychologist from Pulih Foundation, which helps women overcome the trauma of sexual abuse, said on Friday.
“I believe that violence [against women] has been with us for a long time but only now are people becoming more aware that there is a way to report these cases.”
Irma said more victims had found the courage to come forward and reveal what they had suffered.
“People used to think domestic affairs were best kept domestic and therefore other people should not interfere, but now people have gradually realized that they do not have to endure constant abuse,” she said.
Irma said that as women grew more confident of their rights, people would think twice before committing violence against them.
The National Commission on Violence Against Women, or Komnas Perempuan, reported between 1998 and 2010, it received reports of more than 90,000 cases of sexual violence against women, with the number rising each year.
It has attributed the increase to more women coming forward rather than a rise in the prevalence of abuse, but still warns that the number of cases being reported represents a tiny fraction of all cases of abuse against women.
The Legal Aid Institute for Justice, orLBH Keadilan, has demanded that the House of Representatives immediately pass legislation to tackle sexual violence.
LBH Keadilan says the increase in the number of reported cases indicates there are few safe places left for women, with abuse being reported everywhere from public transportation to the work place to the home.
“It is also not uncommon for sex abuse to happen at education facilities, or even at home, a place that should be the safest place for women,” said Halimah Humayrah Tuanaya, the director of advocacy at LBH Keadilan.
In a recently reported high-profile case, a 28-year-old woman claimed to have been groped while unconscious at a TransJakarta bus shelter last Tuesday.
The woman reportedly fell ill shortly after boarding a bus at the RSI Cempaha Putih shelter in Central Jakarta, suffering an asthma attack before passing out, according to police.
Sr. Cmr. Rikwanto, a spokesman for the Jakarta Police, said she was helped off the bus at the Harmoni shelter in Central Jakarta and taken into the generator room for treatment, where four TransJakarta employees allegedly groped her as she was half-conscious.
Each was later charged with committing an indecent act and faces a maximum sentence of 32 months in prison if convicted.
Rikwanto advised women to only take public transportation with women-only sections, such as the TransJakarta.