Landlord and neighborhood chief angry at rape victim for going straight to the police

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Illustration only

Blaming victims of sexual harassment and assault is unfortunately still commonplace in Indonesia, with a recent case in Jakarta highlighting how victims can sometimes be subjected to even more scorn and scrutiny rather than receiving sympathy from the people around them.

On Friday, a woman who lived in a kost (boarding home) in Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta, asked her neighbor, a 23-year-old man identified by the initials DM, if he could help her carry a water gallon to her room. After not receiving help after her first request, the woman entered DM’s room to ask for help again, only for DM to allegedly lock the door and rape her.

“The victim was raped and given a death threat if she told anyone,” said Kebon Jeruk Police Chief Martson Marbun, as quoted by Detik yesterday.

Despite the threat, the victim told her husband about the rape and the pair reported it to the police. DM was soon arrested and though the police haven’t publicly announced the charges against him, it’s likely he could face up to 12 year in jail under the country’s Criminal Code for committing rape.

It’s probably a good thing that the victim and her husband went straight to the police, as the people in the neighborhood don’t seem to be supportive of her.

“If anything happened, I at least should have been told about it first. [I shouldn’t have to] hear it from other people,” said the kost’s landlord, as quoted by Detik yesterday.

“That’s why if people want to live here they shouldn’t be making trouble and making it difficult for other people [in the neighborhood]. Don’t live here and ‘do as I please’. This is not a neighborhood for whoring,” said the neighborhood chief (RT), whose identity was not disclosed.

Obviously not all landlords and RTs are as repugnant as these two. But this RT, in particular, chose to vilify a resident of the neighborhood instead of protecting her. Parallels could easily be drawn to a recent case in which an RT in Tangerang was sentenced to 5 years for stripping and shaming an unwed couple who locals wrongly accused of committing an “immoral” act.

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