Sexual assault reporting in Indonesia boosted by new regulations

The National Commission on Violence Against Women said that reports of sexual harassment cases had increased in 2022, as more people were made aware of the issue.

Nur Janti

Nur Janti

The Jakarta Post


Finally: A group of women waves to House of Representatives lawmakers who passed a sexual violence bill into law during a plenary session in Jakarta on April 12, 2022. The passage ended more than a decade of waiting since the draft law was tabled for deliberation.(Antara/Galih Pradipta)

March 10, 2023

JAKARTA – More cases of sexual violence against women were reported last year following the passing of stronger regulations, a study by the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) has found.

Komnas Perempuan said that reports of sexual harassment cases had increased in 2022, as more people were made aware of the issue.

The study, which compiled data from partner organizations throughout the country, recorded 632 sexual assaultt cases in private spaces reported by the victims. The number of reports increased from 374 reported cases in 2021, and 220 in 2020.

“The provisions of victim protection in the Eradication of Sexual Violence Law and the ministerial regulation has given confidence to people to have the courage to report their cases,” Komnas Perempuan commissioner Theresia Iswarini said on Tuesday.

In April 2022, all but one House of Representatives factions, the exception being the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), agreed to pass the long-awaited sexual violence bill into law. The Eradication of Sexual Violence Law provides a comprehensive legal framework for dealing with sexual violence, including provisions for protecting the victims and restraining orders on alleged perpetrators.

The sexual violence bill had been on and off the table at the House since Komnas Perempuan lobbied lawmakers to endorse the bill in 2012 in response to the rise in sexual assault cases in the country.

It gained further prominence in 2016, when activists called for the acceleration of the bill’s passage in response to the shocking gang rape and murder of a 13-year-old schoolgirl by 14 drunk men in Bengkulu.

But the deliberations came to a standstill in the following years as a result of sharply divided views among lawmakers. Resistance came from lawmakers holding conservative views and, in particular, the PKS which, to date, still insists that the bill will promote adultery.

In August 2021, Education, Culture, Research and Technology Minister Nadiem Makarim signed a ministerial regulation to address sexual violence in the country’s higher education institutions.

The ministerial regulation provides a broader definition of sexual violence, which includes verbal, physical and nonphysical sexual assault, as well as assault through information and communication technology.

It also introduces an array of punishments for perpetrators of sexual violence in universities, including dismissal or expulsion of the perpetrators.

Ratna Batara Munti of the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation of the Indonesian Women Association for Justice (LBH Apik) said that reports of gender-based violence increased after the issuance of regulations that accommodated the interests of victims.

However, she added, many law enforcement officials still do not fully understand the law.

“We encourage law enforcement officials to fully understand and implement the Sexual Violence law because it covers various types of sexual violence and provides clear steps for victims to take legal action,” said Ratna, whose organization assists victims of sexual violence.

Komnas Perempuan recorded a total of 403 rape cases. A total of 597 and 309 rape cases were reported in 2021 and 2020, respectively.

Younger victims

The study also found that domestic violence committed by unmarried partners was still the highest recorded form of abuse, although the number of reported cases decreased in the past three years: 1,074 reported cases in 2020, 953 in 2021 and 915 last year. Meanwhile 422 cases of domestic violence committed by husbands were reported, compared with 656 cases in 2021, and 83 cases in 2020.

“In recent years, the number of cases of violence against [unmarried] partners has been higher than violence against wives. This means that violence against adolescents remains high,” said Alimatul Qibtiyah, another Komnas Perempuan commissioner.

The annual report recorded 9,619 gender-based violence cases reported to partner organizations and 3,442 cases reported to the state-sanctioned women’s rights organization last year.

Meanwhile in 2021, about 7,029 cases of gender-based violence were reported to partner organizations and 3,838 cases were reported to Komnas Perempuan.

scroll to top