Sexual violence often not handled properly due to police stigmatisation of victims

Source – October 8, 2021
Protest against sexual violence on Car Free day in Jakarta – May 15, 2016 (Tempo)

Tatang Guritno, Jakarta – Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) Chairperson Asfinawat says that that sexual violence cases are often not handled properly by law enforcement officials.

According to Asfinawati, this is because many law enforcement officials in fact apply a negative stigma against the victims making the report.

"There is stigma against sexual violence victims in general, in fact, for example, they are blamed by officials, or their experiences belittled", said Asfinawati when contacted on Friday October 8.

In addition to this, continued Asfinawati, law enforcement official often believe that the victims have not really suffered harassment or sexual violence.

If not, victims are in fact seen as the party who caused them to be harassed or become a victim of sexual violence.

"Stigmatisation also emerges as if the victim did not really experience it or the victim caused the incident which they suffered", she said.

Asfinawati also revealed that many victims who report cases of harassment or sexual violence are asked to provide evidence. "Yet finding evidence is the job of investigators [not the victim]", she said.

Sexual violence has again become a public concern after the Multatuli Project wrote a report about a mother named Lydia (not her real name) who reported an alleged rape by her husband of her three children.

Lydia reported the case in 2019 to the East Luwu district police in South Sulawesi but the police closed the case on the grounds that they did not find enough evidence.

After the Multatuli Project report went viral on social media, the East Luwu police claimed that the story was fake news.

The Indonesian Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has slammed the police for haphazardly labeling the report a hoax.

In a press release, the AJI asserted that labeling a professional journalistic work a hoax can be categorised as violence against journalists which is subject to a maximum sentence of two years and a maximum fine of 500 million rupiah.

On the other hand, Indonesian police public relations division head Brigadier General Rusdi Hartono has explained that they will reopen the case if new evidence is found.

Hartono said that in 2019, Lydia's report was immediately investigated by the East Luwu police but they were unable to find two pieces of evidence which is required to pursue the case.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Kekerasan Seksual Sering Tidak Ditangani karena Aparat Beri Stigma kepada Korban".]