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Indonesia Jails Muslim Woman for Reporting Sexual Harassment

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JAKARTA – The Supreme Court in Indonesia has jailed a Muslim woman who tried to report her employer for alleged sexual harassment.

Indonesia’s all Male Muslim Supreme Court on Thursday found Baiq Nuril Maknun, who was a teacher on the island of Lombok, guilty of violating strict anti-pornography laws.

It overturned her acquittal by a lower court and jailed her for six months.

Ms. Maknun was also fined 500 million rupiah ($35,383). The Supreme Court’s Thursday decision cannot be appealed.

“We are concerned about the impact of this decision because it opens a door for perpetrators of sexual violence to criminalize victims,” said Ade Wahyudin, executive director of the Legal Aid Foundation for the Press.

Maknun had complained of getting lewd phone calls from the principal of a high school where she worked from 2012, court documents showed.

Lewd Phone Calls

She recorded some of the phone calls without the knowledge of the headmaster and gave a recording to a third person, and distributed it on an electronic device, which resulted in the principal losing his job, the documents showed.

Maknun case goes back to 2012, when she recorded the principal of the school where she worked discussing graphic sexual details about an affair he was having with another colleague.

Co-workers of the school administrator – who herself had rebuffed the principal’s repeated advances – later convinced her to release the recording in a bid to expose the man’s history of lecherous behavior.

Maknun was initially cleared of the charges by a local court on the island of Lombok where the school was located but Indonesia’s top court reversed the decision, finding her guilty of violating the electronic information law.

Maknun’s legal team said a prison sentence had to be at least two years long before clemency could be sought, but the president could grant an amnesty.

“The only thing possible now is amnesty from the president because we have exhausted all other legal avenues,” said Aziz Fauzi, a lawyer for Maknun.

She was jailed for six months and ordered to pay a 500 million rupiah (US$35,383) fine by Indonesia’s Male Only Supreme Court

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who recently won a second term in office, said earlier Maknun could seek clemency from him if she did not find justice through a judicial review.

There was no immediate comment by the president’s office on the latest ruling.

Indonesia’s #MeToo movement has gained some traction with some women sharing their experiences of sexual harassment.

But the movement has had limited effect in the predominately conservative society of the world’s most populous Muslim country, compared with that seen in some other countries.

Women’s and Girls’ Rights

Human Right Watch reports that Indonesia’s National Police and Armed Forces continued to inflict abusive, unscientific, and discriminatory “virginity testing” on female applicants despite mounting public pressure to abolish the practice.

In April, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s announced that he was preparing a presidential decree that would ban child marriage.

Indonesia’s 1974 Marriage Law allows girls to marry at 16 and men to marry at 19 with parental permission.

Around 14 percent of girls in Indonesia are married before age 18, and 1 percent marry before age 15.

No timetable was mentioned for abolition.

In July, Indonesia’s official Commission on Violence against Women sought assistance from the Presidential Executive Office in combating discrimination against women.

The commission has been advocating for the revocation of discriminatory Sharia-based regional ordinances proliferating nationwide.

Source: Reuters