Sexual violence bill held up by fundamentalists, religious conservatives

CNN Indonesia – December 12, 2020
Tuesday action protesting removal of sexual violence bill from legislative program – Undated (CNN)

Jakarta – The deliberation of the Draft Law on the Eradication of Sexual Violence (RUU PKS) is still the subject of a polemic. Some parties, including for example the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) believe the law will be able to push down the level of sexual violence and protect victims.

Nevertheless, there are not a few parties who still reject the draft law.

Gender and Islamic studies professor Nina Nurmila from the Sunan Gunung Djati Bandung State Islamic University (UIN) explained that opposition to the RUU PKS comes from conservative groups who still see the law as legalising adultery.

These conservative groups, continued Nurmila, are very militant and cleaver at using social media to spread hoaxes about the RUU PKS.

"They also recruit young people, influence them and create counter-narratives by using various media to challenge progressive ideas", said Nurmila during a virtual discussion on Friday December 11.

Nurmila added that these conservative groups also oppose gender equality and justice as can clearly be seen when show their opposition to the RUU PKS.

According to Nurmila, these conservative groups began to express opposition to the law in 2017 after losing a judicial review of Articles 284, 285 and 292 of the Criminal Code (KUHP). These three articles regulate crimes against morality.

In 2017 the Constitutional Court rejected a judicial review of the three articles submitted by Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) Professor Euis Sunarti and several other parties.

"I see their defeat in the judicial review of KUHP Articles 284, 285 and 292 which was eventually defeated as the starting point of their anger and animosity", suspects Nurmila.

Komnas Perempuan Commissioner Imam Nahe'i says that the RUU PKS also represents something that is very revolutionary. Although she regrets that the draft law appeared at a time which religious conservatism had begun to strengthen in Indonesia.

"The [RUU PKS] appeared at a time when the views of fundamentalists and radicals, or conservatives were growing stronger in Indonesia. The RUU PKS is something revolutionary, which appeared at the wrong time", said Nahe'i.

According to Nahe'i, it is difficult for conservative groups to understand the RUU PKS because the draft law defines types of sexual violence which did not exist before.

"From three types of sexual violence, all of a sudden there were nine. The increase from three to nine did of course mean that more perpetrators (of sexual violence) could be arrested. So it also scared a lot of people", she said.

As has been reported, the RUU PKS has been through a long journey. The law was first initiated by Komnas Perempuan in 2012 following an emergency situation of sexual violence against women and children.

Four years later Komnas Perempuan persuaded the House of Representatives (DPR) to create a legal umbrella covering sexual violence. But it was not until May 2016 that Komnas Perempuan was asked to submit an academic draft of the legal umbrella.

Despite this, the RUU PKS has still not been deliberated by the DPR. On the other hand, opposition to the draft law continues. (dmi/NMA)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Guru Besar UIN Ungkap Alasan RUU PKS Sukar Disahkan".]