Husaini Endehttp, Banda Aceh – Hundreds of cross-sector women activists in the Banda Aceh provincial capital of Aceh from the Syura Ureung Inong Aceh Association (BSUIA) held a long-march on Friday March 8 to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) 2019.
During the action, they urged the government to ratify the Draft Law on the Elimination of Sexual Violence (RUU PKS).
The protesters marched on foot from the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque to the Simpang Lima traffic circle in Peunanyong. Among the hundreds of women protesters, a number of men could also be seen taking part in the action.
At the Simpang Lima traffic circle, the women activists took turns in giving speeches. Action coordinator Riswati said that the march was held to campaign for women’s rights and to respond to the problem of sexual violence which continues to occur and has yet to be properly addressed.
“The government must ensure that all parties in Aceh endeavour to fulfill a woman’s right to be able to live free from the threat of violence and discrimination”, said the Executive Director of Flower Aceh.
The protesters also urged the government to immediately take progressive steps to try to prevent, deal with and rehabilitate victims of sexual violence which are growing in number every year.
“We are calling for the RUU PKS to be ratified as a basis to ensure that the rights of women victims of violence are fulfilled”, she said.
According to Riswati, the number of incidents of violence against women in Aceh is continuing to rise so it needs support from all parties.
“It can’t just be the government but all civil groups, all elements of society must take action and make concrete efforts through their respective tupoksi [basic tasks and functions] and roles, including ourselves in the family which is also important”, she said.
BSUIA Presidium Chairperson Khairani Arifin said that the Criminal Code (KUHP) only recognises pencabulan (sexual violations) so many other forms of sexual violence cannot be prosecuted.
“This is because there are no policies which specifically regulate how to handle them, it is because of this that the RUU PKS is needed”, she said.
According to Arifin, there is nothing wrong in being a little more kind hearted to victims of sexual violence rather than us just rejecting the RUU PKS outright [on moral or religious grounds]. “Perhaps we can propose revisions to the articles which we consider to be problematic”.
“So what we want is not rejecting the RUU PKS, [rather] if there are articles that have to be revised then that is what should be discussed. Because rejecting the RUU PKS is the same as rejecting the rights of the victims, the same as denying victim’s needs”, she said in conclusion.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Aktivis Perempuan Aceh Dorong Pengesahan RUU Penghapusan Kekerasan Seksual”.]