Alumnus burns own diploma in protest over alleged victim blaming by Universitas Gadjah Mada in student rape case

An alumnus of Indonesia’s Universitas Gadjah Mada burning his own diploma over the university’s lack of action in an alleged rape case of a student. Photo: Video screengrab from Youtube

The alleged rape of a student at Yogyakarta’s prestigious Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) and the alleged lack of a speedy and appropriate action by the university has caused nationwide outrage, but perhaps none as extreme as one UGM alumnus.

The former UGM student, identified as Arfiantriono, filmed himself setting his own hard-earned diploma — with the graduation date of November 2000 visible — on fire in a show of protest against the university and their handling of the rape case. He says in the video, “I am an UGM alumnus, and I am ashamed.”

After the video went viral, UGM spokesperson Iva Ariani confirmed to Merdeka that Arfiantriono is indeed a graduate of the university and said that she regrets that he did not have faith in his alma mater.

“It’s sad. Like I said, the UGM alumnus wouldn’t have done what he did if he knew the processes we’re taking [to handle the rape case]. This is just a misunderstanding. UGM is not covering up anything. We are not silent. The process continues,” she said.

The rape allegation was brought to the nation’s attention earlier this month thanks to an exposé by the university’s student publication. The alleged rape incident itself, in which a male student was said to have forced himself on a female student, occurred in June 2017.

The victim claims that she didn’t report the incident to the police because she hoped that UGM officials would give punish the culprit appropriatly. However, she claims that instead of doing so, the culprit was allowed to remain a student at UGM (though the university says it’s considering expelling him amid public pressure) and was told by some officials that said she deserved some of the blame for the rape, all while they tried to prevent the allegation from being leaked to the public.

After the story went viral nationwide, the National Police said no official complaint from the victim was needed to start an investigation into the case and that the local police have already begun looking into it.

A petition was launched on Change.org urging UGM to set up better policies and take sterner action to prevent sexual assault incidents like this from happening, such as harsher sanctions on culprits. Around 170,000 have signed the petition at the time of writing, and you can do the same here.

People in authority turning a blind eye on allegations of sexual misconduct is unfortunately not rare in Indonesia. Earlier this year, a woman in one of the most publicized sexual assault cases in the country told us the police didn’t investigate her case until after she made it go viral on social media.


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