Despite rampant body-shaming culture in Indonesia, police warn that it’s actually a crime

Body image. Photo: Charlotte Astrid (Creative Commons Attribution-2.0 Generic)

Many Indonesians still see body-shaming as a non-issue. Making derogatory comments about a person’s physical appearance is normalized since many think it’s a harmless and acceptable thing to do to others.

But now, thanks to increased awareness about body-shaming generated by media reporting and activism, the police have decided to raise awareness about the dangers of body-shaming, specifically that there are existing laws to prevent and punish it.

Indonesian National Police Spokesman Brigadier General Dedi Prasetyo yesterday said those who body shame may be charged with either one of two criminal violations.

“If the body-shaming occurred via social media, the suspect would be charged with criminal defamation under UU ITE (Law on Information and Electronic Transactions) and could face up to six years in prison,” Dedi said, as quoted by Tempo.

Offline, Dedi added, they could still be charged with criminal defamation and could possibly face up to nine months in jail.

“Body-shaming on social media has more severe punishment because millions of people can potentially see it, and it could cause more damage for the victim,” Dedi explained.

Dedi claimed that police have handled 966 body-shaming cases this year alone, 374 of which were resolved either through criminal charges or mediation between the perpetrators and victims.

One of the most viral recent body-shaming cases involved a motorcycle taxi driver who fat-shamed his female passenger by secretly taking a photo of her and uploading it on social media with humiliating commentary. While the driver lost his job afterwards, it’s quite indicative of Indonesia’s general permissiveness towards body-shaming that many netizens defended him because they thought his passenger’s weight could damage his motorcycle.

There are no reports on whether the driver in that case was criminally charged for his action.


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