Sexual violence against women in the workplace common

Republika – March 8, 2012
Women activists commemorate IWD at State Palace in Jakarta - March 8, 2012 (RMOL)
Women activists commemorate IWD at State Palace in Jakarta - March 8, 2012 (RMOL)

Jakarta – The fact is that sexual violence against women often occurs in the workplace. Iswarini, the spokesperson for the Women’s Justice Forum (Forum Keadilan Perempuan, FKP), says many women workers report being victims of sexual violence at work.

“Several said that they had to sleep with superiors if they wanted to be promoted, or there are even some whose underpants are examined to substantiate [if they are telling] the truth when they ask for menstrual leave”, she said.

The worst thing is that not many victims of sexual harassment have the courage to report they cases to the appropriate party. “Only a few are brave enough to talk about it, and I’m sure there are still many more cases of sexual harassment that are not exposed because of the prejudices of the system”, said Iswarini.

Thus in the context of International Women’s Day, the FKP launched a demonstration with the theme “The state is complicit in the rape of women” at the State Palace in Central Jakarta on the morning of Thursday March 8.

“There are many things that cause a [culture] of ‘silence’ among victims of sexual violence, including the lack of impartiality in the legal system in Indonesia and our social outlook that still considers victims of sexual harassment as [people who are] immoral or soiled goods”, said Iswarini.

Iswarini went on to say that 50 percent of incidents of sexual violence that are reported are rapes. “There were 400,939 cases of violence reported to police, 93,960 of these were sexual violence and 50 percent of these were cases of rape”, she said.

According to Iswarini, socialisation to break open the silence of victims of sexual harassment needs to be conducted on a continuous basis in order to eliminate patriarchal views about women.

“To this day there is a perspective that women’s bodies are an invitation to sexual harassment in our society, one of the concrete examples of this is the statement by [House of Representatives speaker] Marzuki Alie on mini-skirts not long ago”, said Iswarini.

Holding a demonstration, according to Iswarini, is one of the most effective ways to overturn social awareness in order to develop a healthy view about sexual harassment against women.

“It’s not a woman’s body that is at fault when cases of sexual harassment occur, we want to see a future were women can walk the streets in safety even though they are wearing a mini-skirt”, said Iswarini.

[Duh, Kekerasan Seksual terhadap Perempuan Sering Terjadi di Tempat Kerja – Kamis, 08 Maret 2012. Translated by James Balowski.]