Compared to Hollywood, Indonesia hasn’t had many huge #MeToo moments. But yesterday’s public revelation by dangdut star Via Vallen that she had recently received some creepy, misogynistic DMs from a famous unnamed foreign soccer player in Indonesia has encouraged others to speak out against sexual harassment, even if many in the country still consider online sexual harassment to be mild and therefore not deserving of serious attention.
The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) was one of many that have voiced their support for Via speaking out publicly against her cyber harasser. The group notes that someone of Via’s fame doing so is important for raising awareness against cyber harassment, which has been on the rise in recent years.
“Imagine if this happened to us, our family, our children. The trauma can last for life. It could even happen to your wives or girlfriends. That’s why we must respect and treat harassment victims fairly. This can be a lesson to all women,” Komnas Perempuan Commissioner Adriana Venny said, as quoted by Detik today.
Adriana also defended Via from those who accuse her of merely seeking attention or those who say she should have kept the DMs a private matter.
“If women dare to speak out against what they experienced, then it could be a deterrent to the culprits. Naming and shaming are necessary. [Especially] because the culprit in this case is a famous figure, a respected figure,” she said.
Furthermore, Adriana hopes that Via reports the harassment to the police to show everyone that what she experienced was intolerable.
Others, from celebrities to politicians, have also voiced their support for Via. Actress Hannah al Rasyid, an outspoken feminist activist, is among those who praised Via because, as someone who has experienced being harassed herself, she believes that outing harassers is important to change the public’s mindset on sexual harassment.
“I think it’s great and we can see from the reaction of netizens, who end up victim blaming [Via], that we have a big problem in this country regarding harassment and reaction towards harassment. There’s still more victim blaming. There were more insults towards Via Vallen than those who focused on what the culprit said to her,” Hannah said today, as quoted by Warta Kota.