Cyber-Violence, an Emerging New Reality for Many Indonesian Women

The National Commission on Violence Against Women, or Komnas Perempuan, highlighted cyber-violence as a growing trend in violence against women in Indonesia in its annual report for 2017, published on March 7. (Reuters Photo/Barry Huang)

By : Sheany | on 10:42 PM March 16, 2018
Category : News, Crime, Editor's Choice, Featured, Human Rights, National, Politics & Law

Jakarta. The National Commission on Violence Against Women, or Komnas Perempuan, highlighted cyber-violence as a growing trend in violence against women in Indonesia in its annual report for 2017, published on March 7.

Komnas Perempuan recorded a total of 65 cases of cyber violence against women last year and categorized the various types of incidents: recruitment, online defamation, malicious distribution, infringement of privacy, illegal content, hacking, cyber-harassment and cyber-grooming.

How Does Cyber-Violence Occur?

"Cyber-violence against women is emerging in a massive way, but there is little report and handling [of such cases]," Komnas Perempuan commissioner Thaufiek Zulbahary said during the report's launch.

In many cases, instances of cyber-violence against women are related to the objectification of women’s bodies in the form of pornographic content, which becomes viral and is shared through various social media platforms and messaging apps.

"This type of violence has a huge impact on women, as they could potentially be victimized all their lives and the perpetrators have more space to ‘move freely’ due to lack of regulation to address and prevent such crimes," Thaufiek added.

Who Are the Actors of Cyber-Violence?

According to the report, most perpetrators of cyber-violence are individuals with close relations to their victims, such as partners, ex-boyfriends and current spouses.

Of the recorded cases, most victims were from the Greater Jakarta Area, or other big cities in Indonesia, the report said.

What Does Cyber-Violence Against Women in Indonesia Look Like?

In 2017, Indonesia saw the launch of controversial websites such as ayopoligami.com and nikahsirri.com.

"These sites are a form of online prostitution masked with a religious tenet. They facilitate men and women to date and ‘get married’ without following official state regulations," Komnas Perempuan said in the report.

Ayopoligami.com is still accessible and even comes in the form of an app for Android-based smartphones, though Komnas Perempuan said its popularity has decreased since its initial launch.

The site attracted tens of thousands of members but was criticized by many women’s rights activists, who warned of a strong link between polygamy and domestic violence.

In Indonesia, Muslim men can apply to one of the country’s Islamic courts to take a second wife. The court may review and grant an application under certain circumstances, such as cases where the first wife is unable to bear children.

On the other hand, access to nikahsirri.com was promptly blocked by the government five days after its launch.

Law Enforcement on Cyber-Violence

In September, police charged Aris Wahyudi, owner of nikahsirri.com, under the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law and the Pornography Law, for spreading pornographic content on the internet and engaging in online trading of virginity.

"Komnas Perempuan is of the opinion that this is clearly trafficking masked with a religious guise labeled as nikah sirri, with poor women as the victims," the report said.

Nikah sirri is a religious marriage in Islam that is not registered with the state.

The sexual exploitation of young girls on the internet has also increasingly become an issue in the country, which saw an online pedophile network dismantled by authorities in March last year.

The network took the form of a private group on Facebook, Official Lolly Candy’s Group 18+, with over 7,000 members who collected, shared and posted hundreds of child pornographic content.

Komnas Perempuan’s report showed that police duly arrested several members of the group, some of whom were found to have sexually harassed underage girls, who were between three and nine years of age, and recorded their sexual activity and shared them on the Facebook group.

"Data showed that the number of sexual exploitation cases against children in Indonesia has been increasing, and that there are around 161,000 pornographic content of this nature on the internet," the report said.

The same report also highlighted other prominent cases of cyber-violence, many of which involve massive public scrutiny, both online and offline, and usually include a viral circulation of video through social media.

According to the new 2018 Digital Yearbook published by We Are Social and Hootsuite, Indonesia has around 130 million active social media users, and ranks third in time spent on social media, after the Philippines and Brazil.

The popularity of social media, coupled with the emerging threat of cyber-violence, should prompt authorities to address this issue through a more effective mechanism of handling and preventive efforts.

As part of its annual report, Komnas Perempuan urged the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to develop a system to prevent the expansion of cyber-violence against women.

The national women’s rights body also called on the National Police, the Attorney General and the Supreme Court to develop a standard operating procedure to address cyber-violence and recovery efforts for female victims.

Where Can You Report a Cyber-Violence Case?

Incidents of violence against women can be reported to Komnas Perempuan by calling +62-21-3903963.

Women and children residing in Jakarta can also call the 112 hotline number to report abuse.

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