Crime & Justice

Indonesia passes its first specific law against sexual violence

Jakarta, Apr 12 (EFE).- Indonesia approved Tuesday its first specific law against sexual violence which declares sexual abuse or forced marriage illegal and offers victims a clear legal framework to protect them from aggressors.

The law in the Muslim-majority country after six years of debate criminalizes physical or verbal sexual harassment, forced contraception or sterilization, forced marriage, sexual torture and sexual exploitation and slavery, aspects which until now were not specifically regulated in law.

“This law is on the side of the victim and takes into account their point of view,” said Willy Adita, a parliamentarian of the National Democratic Party and member of the committee that drafted the law. He said the rule grants authorities legal instruments to prosecute crimes of sexual violence and allows the state to protect victims.

The final text provides sentences of up to 12 years for sexual abuse both within and outside of marriage, four years for non-consensual sexual relations and 15 years for sexual exploitation, including child marriage, which until now was allowed through Muslim courts.

The law does not include proposals included in previous drafts, such as forced abortion or a clear definition of what is considered rape, but it does provide financial compensation for victims through a fund and a rehabilitation program for the victim.

It also prohibits rapists from marrying victims, a hitherto frequent practice, especially in cases where the woman becomes pregnant.

Reports of sexual violence have increased in recent years in Indonesia, but victims have faced a frustrating legal vacuum.

The debate gained steam in 2016, when the country was shocked by the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl by 14 drunken men, but opposition from conservative Muslim groups, who argued that such a law would promote adultery, has slowed down parliamentary debate. EFE


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