Human rights activists show solidarity with Baiq Nuril Maknun during a demonstration at the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta on Thursday last week. (Antara Photo/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

Jailing of Baiq Nuril Will Silence Victims of Sexual Violence, Rights Group Warns

NOVEMBER 26, 2018

Jakarta. The Supreme Court's decision to jail Baiq Nuril Maknun for spreading an "immoral" audio recording documenting unwanted sexual advances from her former boss is the most recent example of injustice against women in Indonesia, and could have an unfortunate ripple effect, a women's rights coalition said.

The coalition, which includes the Jakarta branch of the Indonesian Women Coalition (KPI), women's organization Kalyanamitra and the University of Indonesia's Judicial Watch Society (Mappi), highlighted the issue during a meeting on Saturday, saying the court ruling was not only unjust, but also discriminatory and biased.

"This case is a prime example of a power imbalance, because the perpetrator is a man and the school principal, while the victim is a woman and a contract teacher," the group said in a statement.

It added that the case sets a bad precedent that could make victims reluctant to come forward, as many may now worry that they could end up like Nuril.

"What happened to Nuril can happen to any woman. Victims of sexual violence will remain silent because they are not treated fairly by law enforcement officials," the group said in the statement.

The Supreme Court sentenced Nuril to six months' imprisonment and a fine of Rp 500 million ($34,000) earlier this month for defaming Muslim, her alleged harasser, after a recording of his lustful phone call to her leaked to the public.

Human rights groups, including the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), earlier said Nuril's case demonstrates that the Indonesian justice system has yet to guarantee protection for victims of sexual violence.

"The current justice system provides minimal protection for victims, and perpetuates impunity for perpetrators," Komnas Perempuan said in a separate statement.

The verdict comes despite a Supreme Court regulation issued in July 2017, that is supposed to serve as a guideline for dealing with cases of sexual harassment and abuse against women.

The coalition raised concern over the court's apparent disregard for this gender-sensitive regulation, and called for law enforcement officials to become more attuned to issues faced by victims of sexual violence.

The group urged the government and the House of Representatives to speed up deliberations on the long-overdue elimination of sexual violence bill.