E. Jakarta sexual assault suspect says he was turned on by victim’s dress, Komnas PA: Stop victim-blaming

Video screengrab of a CCTV footage showing a woman being sexually assaulted in Jatinegara, East Jakarta Feb. 6, 2018.

Police on Tuesday arrested a suspect in the sexual assault case in Jatinegara, East Jakarta, CCTV footage of which has gone viral recently showing an assailant tackling a woman to the ground and grabbing her private parts before running away.

With the help of the footage, the Jatinegara Police identified a suspect, known by his initial R, a married man and father who lives near the victim’s neighborhood. After the arrest, police say R confessed that he acted “spontaneously” when he saw the victim, who has been identified by her initials DK.

“He was [driven by] desire, just spontaneous like that because the victim was wearing a house dress which was somewhat see-through because of the lighting in the area,” said Jatinegara Police Chief Supadi, as quoted by Detik yesterday.

Though the police were just conveying R’s motive to the public, the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) condemned the suspect’s attempt to deflect blame from himself.

“The culture of victim-blaming must be stopped. The reason that the suspect gave [for the assault] shows that discriminative viewpoints against women are still very strong within our society,” Komnas Perempuan head Azriana Rambe said yesterda, as quoted by Detik.

Azriana added that it’s imperative to educate men that women aren’t merely to be seen as sexual objects and that women’s clothing is never an invitation to sexual harassment or assault.

“Just like men, women have the right to wear whatever they want,” she said.

“Human rights values and gender equality must be integrated into formal and non-formal educational curriculum, including education in families. People have the right to their own bodies.”

While victim-blaming in sexual assault cases like this one is unfortunately still common in Indonesia, the argument that wearing more conservative dress helps prevents women from getting harassed simply does not hold weight. For example, one of the most talked about sexual harassment cases so far this year involved a woman in the city of Depok who was wearing a hijab when a passing motorcyclist groped her breasts.

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