October 11, 2019
How a Ghost from “Hotel del Luna” Shares Similarities with Many Indonesian Women

Why is it so hard for women to get justice even when they are clearly victims of heinous crime?

by Sheramanda R.
Culture // Screen Raves
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There lived an aspiring female college student majoring in mechanical engineering named Ga Young. One day, she crossed path with bad luck. The detail was never really laid out, but she was either drunk or allegedly drugged and a wretched man who was with her in his bedroom implicitly raped her.

This is a sad situation that always instantly incites the wrath in me whenever I hear it. And the saddest part is the assault didn’t end there for the poor woman. Her rapist had actually installed a hidden camera before he raped his victim. Once the camera was installed, the lowlife spent a few minutes standing in front of the camera, making sure it was installed properly. The video of the rape was circulated on the internet, watched by a bunch of sleazy men.

“Fortunately” (the quotation mark is for irony), this account is fictional, one of the plotlines from a K-drama I recently saw. Titled Hotel del Luna, the series tells about a hotel that caters to restless spirits. Dead people who still have unfinished business and therefore can’t proceed to the afterlife go to this hotel to sort out their business, vengeance, resentment, regret, and sadness in the living realm.

The ill-fated narrative above belongs to a ghostly character in the story. She committed suicide after she found out that her video had gone viral on the internet. Once she became a ghostly spirit, she set out to exact vengeance on the corrupt men who watched her video. One of these men is her own rapist, who has become the owner of a successful video sharing platform.

If you have been paying attention to today’s pressing issues, then you’d know that there’s a teenage girl from Padang who was pregnant after being raped by six men. It’s already hard for a victim of a sexual assault to get justice. It is even harder if the rape leaves her pregnant. Making the situation worse, the law bans her from terminating her pregnancy after six-weeks.

Also Read: The Long and Endless Struggle to Pass Anti-Sexual Violence Bill in Indonesia

Aborting a pregnancy caused by rape is the only sound and reasonable thing to do, but many pregnant rape victims have difficulty getting access to a safe and legal abortion service. Many victims reportedly opt to perform abortion secretly by themselves without the assistance of a health professional, risking their lives and being jailed as well.

Sadly, victims of sexual assaults in Indonesia share a sad reality with the rape victim in the K-drama.  Whether dead or alive, justice often elude them.

In the critically acclaimed drama series, it is a forbidden for dead spirits to inflict harm on humans no matter how evil they are, lest the ghosts will turn to dust and cease to exist. Ga Ga Young, the ghost of Hotel del Luna, crumbled to ashes – Avengers: Infinity War style – the moment she was about to release her fury and harm her rapist.

The same thing happened to the poor teenage girl in Padang. Having been raped and pregnant from it, she could not legally abort her pregnancy because the law is not in her favor. Why is it so hard for women to get justice even when they are clearly the victim of a repulsive crime?

The same injustice was also obvious in the case of Baiq Nuril, who was  criminalized merely for standing up against her harasser. Although she was eventually pardoned by President Joko Widodo, she had had to spend some time in jail, while her harasser got to keep his job.

Too often, life treats the wrong unjustly. Perhaps what we need is something like Ma Go, a deity in Hotel del Luna whose job is to right the wrong in the living realm, even if it means taking someone’s life. In the absence of legal justice, it might be human to find solace in the gruesome death of a rapist.

Sheramanda R. – Miss Shera to her students – is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at a private junior high school. She is now eagerly looking for possibilities of a career change that comes with great exposure and clear career path. She welcomes any professional inquiries (or job offers even!) sent to sheramanda_r@yahoo.com