Braving rain, One Billion Rising in Malang rallies against sexual violence

Arah Juang – February 18, 2020
One Billion Rising rally in Malang – February 14, 2020 (Arah Juang)

On the afternoon of Friday February 14, 20 or so women and seven men braved heavy rain to take to the streets of the East Java city of Malang to hold a One Billion rising action against sexual violence.

They held a parade from the Pertamina-Brawijaya University Sports Centre to Jl Veteran shouting slogans and carrying posters such as “Stop physical, sexual and psychological violence against women”, “An independent campus is free of harassment”, “Mothers are the womb of a civilised nation”, “Women’s issues are human issues”, “Let’s humanize humanity” and “Women and men are equal”.

As explained in their press release: “One Billion Rising (OBR) is a global movement which began in 2012 as part of the campaign to raise awareness about the high rate of rape and sexual violence against women. The movement was initiated by Eve Ensler, the author of the paper ‘The Vagina Monologues’. ‘One Billion’ refers to statistics from the United Nations which found that one in three women (equivalent to one billion of the global population) will be raped or assaulted”.

“OBR began in 2012 as part of the V-Day movement and culminated in the largest global action ever to end violence against women with tens of thousands of events held in more than 190 countries. On February 14, 2013, one million people in 207 countries rose up and danced to demand an end to sexual violence against women and girls”.

“The invitation to take part in the Women’s March action was made in January 2017 by @womensmarchindo. Every March, Women’s Marches are held in the cities of Jakarta, Serang, Bandung, Salatiga, Malang, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Denpasar, Kupang and Lampung. In 2020 the Malang Women’s March held the Malang One Billion Rising was one of a series of actions taking up the theme ‘Solidarity. Rise! Resist! Unite!’ which means solidarity, rising up, resisting and uniting with the aim of articulating opposition to rape, harassment and sexual violence against women, children and minorities in Indonesia by holding a mass art action”.

“Women, girls and minorities in Indonesia universally experience rape, sexual violence and harassment, both during periods of peace as well as war (conflict). Rape is rooted in a series of beliefs, power and patriarchal control which is complex and continues to create a social environment where rape and sexual harassment are seen as the norm. The actual number of rapes and sexual attacks are very difficult to confirm because of weak law enforcement and impunity for perpetrators and the stigmatisation and silencing of survivors (victims). Over the last year, the voices of survivors and activists through campaigns such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, #Niunamenos, #NotOneMore, #BalanceTonPorc, #GerakBersama and others have highlighted these problems and reached a peak which can no longer be silenced or ignored. During the Malang One Billion Rising action we will call on all layers of society to take a position of opposing widespread cases of rape trough a group dance through the theme ‘Be alert rape is all around us’”.

OBR Malang public relations officer Fitri told Arah Juang that they were responding to rampant sexual violence and the poor handling cases. “[We’re] deeply disappointed because the majority of cases end in negotiated settlements. So bit by bit we are raising the level of consciousness. Because the public consciousness which exists at the moment is formed out of the conditions of social life. The culture of rape is thousands of years old and deeply rooted. We try to be patient in raising social awareness bit by bit. Through demonstrations, discussions, or One Billion Rising such as this where the main event is dancing...”

Fitri said that although justice has been elusive for victims there have been gains in the struggle against sexual violence, in the form of the growing number of victims who are prepared to speak out and fight.

“Victims are now prepared to speak up. Although they continue to be put down by individuals who claim to be progressive. Using the pretext of the good name of a campus, the reputation of an institution, and so forth, who often view cases of sexual violence as a personal problem, instead of a gender based crime. That is the reality. This is the reality which we see and experience on a daily basis. Not some distant problem. Many of our friends have become victims as well. So here we want to celebrate the victims’ achievements. The courage to speak out, still able to go on with life, in spite of the constant pressure from a culture of rape which blames the victim. We celebrate women’s power and try to provide safe space”.

At the end of the action, One Billion Rising Malang made the following demands:

  • Urging the executive and the legislative to immediately deliberate and enact the Draft Law on the Elimination of Sexual Violence and in doing so not ignore the principles of prevention, procedural laws on prosecution, rehabilitation and the protection of the rights of victims.
  • Create mechanisms and regulations within all institutions and government agencies which respect women’s rights.
  • Protect women and girls from all forms of sexual violence whether they occur in educational institutions, the workplace, places of worship, public space or in the home.
  • Protect girls from early marriage.
  • Protect women in conflict areas.
  • Guarantee the rights and welfare of women to take leave for menstruation, pregnancy, giving birth and leave for miscarriages.
  • Access to free and accessible healthcare services which are non-discriminative, particularly the right to reproductive and sexual health.
  • Halt infrastructure projects which rob the ordinary people of their sources of income and space to live and involve women in the drafting of policies on natural resources and just development programs.
  • Call for the enactment of the Draft Law on Domestic Workers, the Ministerial Regulation on the Protection of House Workers and the implementation of Law Number 18/2017 on the Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers.
  • Urge the police, Attorney General’s Office and the Supreme Court to employ members who have a legal perspective on gender justice in the handling of all cases.
  • Urge the Communication and Information Technology Ministry to develop a system and policies which prevent the spread of gender based and sexual violence in cyberspace.
  • Ask that media companies produce news content which is friendly to women, upholds gender justice and sides with victims.
  • End the commodification of women’s bodies, discrimination based on sexual orientation, identity and gender for political or religious interests.
  • Reject all forms of violence against women, LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer), children and the disabled as well as accepting and protecting diverse sexual orientations, gender identity and gender expression for all citizens.
  • Condemn all acts of violence, intimidation and sexual harassment against activists, particularly women activists.
  • Call for a Human Rights Court to resolve cases of past sexual violence including sexual violence which took place during the 1965 Tragedy, in Aceh, East Timor and West Papua, systematic rape during the May 1998 riots in Jakarta and the 1993 murder of labour activist Marsinah.
  • Urge the Malik Maulana Ibrahim State Islamic University in Malang and the Malang Corruption Watch to immediately solve cases of sexual violence and try the perpetrators. (lk)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was” Menembus Hujan, Merayakan Keberanian Korban, Memprotes Kekerasan Seksual”.]