Minister calls for chemical castration for official who sexually assaulted teen rape victim at safe house

The Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection (PPPA) Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati speaking at an event in early July 2020. Photo: Facebook/Kementerian Pemberdayaan Perempuan dan Perlindungan Anak
The Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection (PPPA) Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati speaking at an event in early July 2020. Photo: Facebook/Kementerian Pemberdayaan Perempuan dan Perlindungan Anak

The Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection (PPPA), Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati has called for the discharge and harsh punishment for DA, an official from Lampung province who allegedly raped an underage victim while she was staying at a women’s shelter. 

“We ask that the local police conduct a full investigation into this case and for law enforcement officers to charge the suspect of sexual violence against children with the maximum sentence without hesitation,” Bintang said in a statement published yesterday.

Bintang said she has instructed authorities to provide protection and psychological assistance to the victim, a 14-year-old girl identified by her initials NF, as well as medical examination and legal assistance. Officials from the ministry’s office in Lampung have reportedly met with NF’s family. 

DA allegedly molested NF while she was staying at a women’s shelter managed by East Lampung regency’s Integrated Center for Women and Children Empowerment office (P2TP2A). NF said she couldn’t fight back because DA threatened to harm her if she reported him.

Related: 14-year-old rape victim in Lampung allegedly sexually assaulted while at safe house

“It is regretful that there’s indication of a case of sexual violence committed by a member of an institution that is supposed to help the public and entrusted as a partner of the government in handling cases of violence against women and children,” Bintang said. 

The minister urged East Lampung regent Zaiful Bokhari to immediately discharge DA, who heads the office’s technical service unit in the regency, while also highlighting that he is not a civil servant as previously reported. 

Bintang noted that DA, as a member of P2TP2A in East Lampung, could potentially receive tougher punishments as regulated in Indonesia’s Child Protection Laws, such as having his identity revealed to the public and chemical castration. 

The topic of chemical castration for convicted child molesters in Indonesia has since remained a controversial one. Soon after the punishment was introduced in 2016, the government controversially sought the help of the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) to chemically castrate the convicts, but the country’s medical professionals refused on the grounds that the procedure violates medical ethics.

Last year, a man named Muh Aris bin Syukur from Mojokerto City, East Java became the first convicted child molester in the country to be sentenced with chemical castration for the rape of nine children between 2015 and 2018 — in addition to the 12-year prison sentence and IDR100 million (US$6,884) in fines.

Given that the punishment has no precedent in Indonesia, the Mojokerto Prosecutors Office said they didn’t have the means to chemically castrate Aris, so the additional punishment has yet to be executed. 

Activists said the threat of severe punishment has not been as successful a deterrent as the government hoped, as sexual assault against children continue to be a serious problem in Indonesia. The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) also described chemical castration punishment as a “violation of human rights.”

As part of her statement on NF’s case, Bintang also urged the House of Representatives (DPR) to pass the Elimination of Sexual Violence Bill (RUU PKS).

“Seeing the increase of violence and sexual harassment [cases] against women and children, Minister Bintang hopes that DPR RI can reenter RUU PKS into the 2020 Priority National Legislation Program [Prolegnas], and immediately enact the legal umbrella that could protect women and children,” the statement reads.

The bill, which was drafted by Komnas Perempuan in cooperation with the Service Provider Forum (FPL) for female victims of violence, was first included in the Prolegnas in 2016, but the House of Representatives failed to pass the bill even though it was included in its priority list during the 2014-2019 term.  

The bill clearly defines different forms of sexual violence and sets out the responsibilities of the state in dealing with each of those instances. It also provides protection of victims and witnesses, increases access to justice, recovery and reparation mechanisms for victims and rehabilitation for offenders.

In late June, Commission VIII at the House suggested for the RUU PKS to be excluded from Prolegnas for the current term. Marwan Dasopang, the vice chair of the commission, was infamously quoted as saying that deliberations on the bill was “a bit difficult.”

In Indonesia, many sexual violence cases have yet to be resolved and perpetrators roam free without being held accountable, showcasing the urgency for RUU PKS to be ratified as soon as possible. The case of NF and others indicate that sexual violence against women and children are occurring at an alarming rate across Indonesia, and they shouldn’t be mere headlines of the week without the perpetrators being brought to justice.

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CITY: JAKARTACATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: CRIME, POLITICS

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