Indonesian gov’t agency official denies accusation he sexually harassed his former secretary, says he ‘helped her career’

Photo illustration.
Photo illustration.

A board member at the Workers Social Security Agency (BPJS Ketenagakerjaan) Supervisory Board, Syafri Adnan Baharuddin, has denied sexually harassing his former secretary, a woman who goes by the pseudonym Dina, after an accusation was made against him last week.

At a press conference yesterday, Syafri stated that he has resigned from BPJS Ketenagakerjaan but said his resignation didn’t serve as an admission of guilt to Dina’s accusation. Instead, he says he will take legal action against his former secretary, who supposedly owes a lot to him with regards to her career.

“As her boss and as a [parental figure], I was helping her, so please do not get it twisted,” Syafri said, as quoted by Tempo

Syafri claimed that he always interacted with Dina in a professional manner, even if she had her faults as an employee. He recalls having to constantly remind Dina, whose apartment was located far from work, to get to work on time.

“I asked her why she has to live so far away, I always told her to be disciplined,” Syafri said.

Syafri also said there was an incident in which Dina attempted suicide for no apparent reason after he arrived back to Jakarta from a work trip. He said he heard about the suicide attempt from Dina’s parents, and went straight to her home, but he says he never acted inappropriately.

“It’s understandable that, as a boss, I care. It’s not the first time I had an assistant,” he said.

According to Dina, she attempted suicide because of the alleged sexual harrasments she received from Syafri.

At a press conference held on Friday, Dina said she was sexually harassed by Syafri four times from April 2016 to November 2018 at the office or work trips to other cities.

In an interview with Tirto published also on Friday, in July 2016, Dina said her boss — for whom she worked as a secretary — came on to her and asked if he could kiss her. Things escalated from there, with Dina claiming that her boss forced her to have sex with him on numerous occasions.

“There was psychological abuse whenever I refused him and escaped his sexual advances, like him making the atmosphere at work uncomfortable, screaming at me over bad things I supposedly did,” Dina told Tirto.

On November 28, Dina said she filed a complaint to the chairman of the Supervisory Board. However, two days later, she received a notice for the termination of her employment, which said that her last day on the job was going to be Dec 5.

“[The notice] completely disregarded the true crime, which is the sexual harassment committed by the board member,” she said.

Since then, Dina has sought assistance from legal aid groups and feminist groups, some of whom have reported the case all the way up to President Joko Widodo. The president directly appointed the members of the BPJS Ketenagakerjaan Supervisory Board, including the alleged perpetrator. The police have also reportedly been notified.

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