Activists in Bandung mark IWD with call to enact sexual violence bill

CNN Indonesia – March 8, 2021
IWD rally in Bandung, writing reads ‘My body is my authority’ – March 8, 2021 (CNN)

Bandung – Activists from the Women's Liberation Knot (Simpul Pembebasan Perempuan, Simpulpuan) held a parade (long-march) to the Gedung Sate building in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung on March 8 to demand the ratification of the Draft Law on the Elimination of Sexual Violence (RUU PKS).

Before holding the action at the Gedung Sate building – which is also the West Java governor's office – the demonstrators gathered first at Braga Park. The action was joined by a number of different elements such as students, workers, individuals and communities.

The action was held to commemorate International Women's Day (IWD) which is usually held on March 8 throughout the world. During the peaceful action in front of the West Java provincial government complex the Simpulpuan activists unfurled a banner reading "Capitalism is the Pandemic, the Unity of Oppressed Women is the Solution".

During the action they also brought posters containing demands on the government related to women's issues.

Simpulpuan spokesperson Khadijah said that they are calling for the RUU PKS to be enacted immediately because the current assistance and prevention measures against sexual violence are insufficient.

"We have indeed raised many demands but right now what is still very urgent is the sexual violence emergency. So our first point covers the RUU PKS because after all this time the RUU PKS has still not been ratified", she said during a break in the action.


As has been reported, the 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 reduce sexual violence and protect the victims. Quite a few parties however oppose the ratification of the law.

The law itself has gone through a long journey. It was first initiated by Komnas Perempuan in 2012 after the situation in Indonesia was deemed to be a sexual violence emergency.

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

Nevertheless, to this day the DPR has still not deliberated the RUU PKS even though a number of legislators and even leaders of the house have pledged to include it in the National Legislation Priority (Prolegnas) program.

"We are continuing to try and campaign for it because the grounds for it not being ratified are always on the pretext that there is opposition (to the law). We will try as much as possible to continue to campaign on activities which we often hold such as discussions and workshops on campus", said Khadijah.

Household workload

On the other hand, Khadijah conceded that the situation under the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the amount of household work for women, that women do more household work than men and are doing more than before the pandemic.

Data from Komnas Perempuan shows that women have suffered a two-fold increase in household work load compared with men. As many as 57 percent of women have also experienced an increase in stress and anxiety compared with 48 percent of men.

In addition to this, economic pressures and the heavy mental load has resulted in women becoming the targets of violence. According to the latest data from the Ministry for the Empowerment of Women and Protection of Children's Simfoni database, between February 29 and November 2020, there were 4,477 cases of violence against women involving 4,520 victims.

The majority of cases of sexual violence against women or 59.8 percent were domestic violence. Meanwhile some 4,472 female children also fell victim to sexual violence.

"Under the pandemic, women are increasingly vulnerable to violence as they are stuck at home with the perpetrators whether the relationship be with a partner or in a household", said Khadijah. (hyg/kid)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Hari Perempuan, Simpulpuan Bandung Desak Pengesahan UU PKS".]