On March 27, Baiq Nuril Maknun, a part-time high school teacher at SMAN 7 Mataram, was sentenced to jail for allegedly spreading a voice recording of her former school principal, H. Muslim, who was sexualy harrasing her and telling her over the phone that he had committed adultery.
The phone conversation between Nuril and Muslim happened back in August 2012. By then Nuril was accustomed to Muslim calling her and talking about stories of adultery, so she decided to record it. In December 2014, a coworker who knew about the existence of the recording forced Nuril to share it, and since then the recording has been copied and spread numerously. Her coworkers eventually reported the recording to the Head of Education Office, and this led to Nuril being fired and Muslim being removed from his current position before transferred to another school.
Angered, Muslim reported Nuril to the police on March 2015 using the Law on Information and Technology (UU ITE), Article 27(1) on distributing electronic documents that contains obscene material. Although the recording was copied and spread by Nuril’s coworkers, the court decided that she was guilty, and sentenced her to six years imprisonment or Rp 1 billion fine.
Activists has since joined forces to back her case and to make the injustice covered by the media. An online petition was made and the hashtag #SaveIbuNuril was started and has gone viral.
The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) criticized the criminalization of Nuril, and pointed out that she was not the one who committed adultery, neither was she the one spreadinng the recording. Komnas Perempuan Commissioner Sri Nurherwati said Nuril was a victim of sexual harassment in workplace; in the recording Muslim can be heard talking dirty to her. The recording should have been perceived as a way to get out of a violent situation. In addition, the arrest of Nuril, a mother of three, also led to impoverishment of her family, as it forces her working husband to quit his job in order to take care of the children.
In response to the disheartening situation, the court on May 31 decided to suspend her sentence and changed her status to city arrest. She now has to report to the court every Monday and Thursday.
Where we stand
Nuril’s case is another example of how the Law of Electronic and Information is used to criminalize a person. SAFEnet, a voluntary-based network of freedom of expression defenders, noted that there is a surge in the number of people who file reports using UU ITE in West Nusa Tenggara and most of them don’t even meet the requirement of a criminal case.
We believe that the law enforcement and the court should take into account all aspects of a case involving this law and, most importantly, they should never further victimize survivors of sexual violence. This case also shows that women still highly need protection from sexual harassment as there is still no law that regulates it.
Acknowledging the significant role of activists and media, we also encourage more people to expose injustice that is underreported by the media.
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