Indonesian Women against Violence (Perempuan Indonesia anti Kekerasan) community network filed a lawsuit against an individual who used hate speech on social media to provoke rape of women supporters of Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama about a month before the gubernatorial election that took place April 19.
The reported individual under an account named Dwi Ardika, a supporter of hardliners group Islam Defenders Front (FPI), posted a Facebook status back in March 14th saying: “The point is, those who support Ahok are stupid and immoral, they’re allowed (halal) to be killed and the women are also allowed (halal) to be gang-raped...”
To pursue the case, the Indonesian Anti-violence Women alliance officially accused the reported of violating the Criminal Code (KUHP) 156 by committing hate speech in public space.
“We specifically use the Criminal Code 156 and not the Law on Electronic Information and Transaction (UU ITE), because we want to emphasize on the hate speech problem instead of the misuse of technology,” said Ratna Batara Munti from LBH Apik organization during a meeting at the office of Women and Children Protection unit (PPA) Polres Metro Jakarta (17/4). Jakarta Police’s Chief of Women and Children Protection unit head Adj. Comr. Endang Sri Lestari said the case would be processed in cyber investigation because the hate speech was posted on Facebook platform, however.
The community network worried that if rape provocation keeps being ignored and becomes widespread, massive sexual violence like the 1998 rape of ethnic Chinese women in Indonesia would reoccur.
“It’s our primary concern because we clearly remembered how the tragic ’98 rape incident started out as a discourse in coffee stalls and casual talks. It sounded simple and insignificant until the day it actually happened,” said Helga Worotitjan from survivor support group Inspirasi Perempuan.
Helga also denied that the report has anything to do with the recent process of governor election in the capital city. She explained that it’s more about highlighting specific women’s vulnerabilities during political conflict.
“Women’s bodies often become the target of power legitimation. Violation against women bodies, specifically rape, are often used as a political weapon to punish, terror, and show domination over an opponent,” she said.
Helga Worotitjan is one of the 173 individuals, including activists, academicians and journalists who support the lawsuit. The community network also involved 29 women organizations from across Indonesia, such as Institut Perempuan, Peace Women Across the Globe Indonesia, LBH Apik Jakarta, Indonesia untuk Kemanusiaan, KAPAL Perempuan, and Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN) Indonesia.
The Indonesian Women against Violence urged the government to be more proactive and responsive to address the pervasive use of gender-based hate speech. They also called on the government to promote respect for the democratic process without using terror and violence that often targeted women’s bodies.
Read our new column Magdalene Primer on the women of Kendeng.