‘They drew on my scrotum using a marker’: KPI employee opens up on workplace harassment

Photo for illustration purpose only.
Photo for illustration purpose only.

An employee at the Indonesian Broadcast Commission (KPI) has come forward with explosive claims detailing years of bullying and sexual harassment in the hands of his colleagues, prompting calls for a thorough investigation within the broadcast watchdog.

In a press release published yesterday, the victim, who is identified by his initials MS, said since he began working at KPI’s central office in Jakarta, he has lost count of the number of times he was harassed and degraded by seven male colleagues.

The bullying escalated to sexual assault in 2015, MS said, when his colleagues pinned him down, stripped him, before “they drew on my scrotum using a marker.” MS said they took photos of his genitals and he has since been concerned that they would be posted online.

“Sometimes in the middle of the night, I scream by myself like a crazy person. The stripping down and the harassment left such a mark, and I have not been the same since that incident. It feels like I have no worth as a human being, as a man, as a husband, and as the head of a household,” he said.

The psychological trauma from the incident and continued harassment manifested in physiological ways for MS, notably being diagnosed with gastric acid hypersecretion in 2017.

Yet the bullying didn’t stop there, as the alleged perpetrators continued to attack him verbally — often using racist and homophobic slurs — and physically over the years. During a company outing in 2017, MS said they tossed him into a pool and laughed at him.

MS has been seeking justice in recent years, first reporting the incidents to the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) in 2017, who told him that the harassment he received were criminal acts and that he should report his colleagues to the police.

When he finally went to the police in 2019, they told him to take the matter to his superiors at KPI. But MS said his superiors only moved his workstation to another room, and he became subject to further bullying by the alleged perpetrators when they found out that he ratted on them.

When he went to the police again in 2020, MS said the officer on duty at the time did not take his complaint seriously. After consultation with a lawyer friend and rights activists, MS felt emboldened to speak up and tell his story to the nation through yesterday’s press release, urging President Joko Widodo and other top officials to give him the legal protection that should be afforded to all Indonesian citizens.

“Must I be a woman for the police to take my claims seriously and process the harassment case? Must my arm be severed or my stomach sliced so that it oozes blood for the assault that I experienced be noticed by people?” MS said. 

MS added that he has strongly considered quitting his job, but decided to remain in order to provide for his family.

KPI Chairman Agung Suprio issued a brief release following MS’ yesterday, promising to conduct an internal investigation and allowing law enforcement to probe and prosecute the alleged perpetrators in accordance with the law. KPI is also going to offer protection, legal assistance, and psychological counseling for MS, but has yet to specify possible sanctions for the alleged perpetrators.

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