Muhammadiyah rejects new regulations against sexual violence on campus over pro-premarital sex interpretation

Photo illustration. Source: Pixabay
Photo illustration. Source: Pixabay

It’s not Indonesia if there’s no pushback from conservatives when progressive rules are passed, and a set of regulations by the Education Ministry designed to protect students from sexual violence on campus has met that exact fate.

Muhammadiyah, one of Indonesia’s — and the world’s — largest Muslim organizations, said it rejects the ministry’s Regulation No. 30/2021 (Permendikbud No. 30/2021) on Prevention and Handling of Sexual Violence at Higher Education Institutions due to its incompatibility with religious teachings.

“It would be wise to rescind or modify Permendikbud No. 30/2021,” Lincolin Arsyad, who chairs Muhammadiyah’s Higher Education Research and Development Council, said yesterday.

One of the points in the Permendikbud Lincolin outlined as contradictory to Islamic teachings is the recognition of disparity in power relations in sexual violence cases. 

“Islam instead highly values the honors of men and women in relations built on kindness and noble morals,” he said.

Furthermore, though Muhammadiyah denounces sexual violence, it’s worried that the Permendikbud forbidding any sexual act without consent can be interpreted as enabling or “legalizing” premarital sex, which is actually not illegal in Indonesia.

“It’s implied that as long as there is no coercion, the deviant acts become acceptable and accepted, even though they are done outside of the bonds of marriage,” Lincolin said.

Other Muslim groups rejecting the Permendikbud on similar grounds include the Islamic Civil Organizations Council (MOI).

Education Minister Nadiem Makarim signed Permendikbud No. 30/2021 on Aug. 31, 2021, outlining clearly specific acts of sexual violence that are forbidden on campus, with nuanced categorizations of consent — including those based on power relations — being key in determining what is categorized as such. 

Supplementing criminal law, the Permendikbud also regulates administrative sanctions for perpetrators of sexual violence, such as the termination of scholarships and the removal of guilty educators and students. The Permendikbud also mandates universities to provide protection and counseling for victims.

Responding to Muhammadiyah’s concerns, the ministry said the group’s criticism was unfounded as the Permendikbud does not contain any explicit calls for premarital sex. Meanwhile, Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas said he supports the Permendikbud, and is pushing for its implementation at religious higher education institutions.

Dozens of sexual violence cases on campus are reported every year, with many more believed to go unreported. One of the most high profile recent cases centered around allegations in Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University (UGM), which ended in a “peaceful resolution” between perpetrator and victim amid months of slow reaction by college officials.


Also Read — PKS says Eradication of Sexual Violence bill could permit ‘free sex and deviant sexual behavior’

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