University Gadjah Mada says rape case involving its students resolved ‘peacefully’

Photo illustration
Photo illustration

Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), one of Indonesia’s most prestigious universities, says it has put to rest a highly publicized rape allegation with a “peaceful” resolution between the alleged perpetrator and victim, following months of criticism that the institution’s officials had been slow to act and deliver justice to the victim.

Last year, UGM’s student body publication, Balairung Press, published an exposé about a male student, identified by his initials HS, who allegedly sexual assaulted a female student, identified as Agni or her initials AN, in 2017. The story detailed that while the university was made aware about the alleged incident, they did not report the matter to the police nor was the alleged perpetrator given any meaningful punishment (he is reportedly still enrolled at the university). UGM was also accused of victim blaming after some of its officials said Agni deserved some of the blame (which led to one alumnus burning his hard-earned diploma out of shame for his alma mater in a viral video).

UGM announced that the case has been resolved on Monday, seemingly quashing any possibility of a criminal investigation into the matter — at least one filed by the university.

“Today we have agreed to resolve the incident between HS and AN and UGM,” UGM rector Panut Mulyono said at a press conference on Monday, as quoted by Republika.

“UGM states that the matter is over,” he added.

UGM says that, under the peaceful resolution agreement they mediated between HS and AN, HS has been mandated to attend psychological counseling while AN will continue receiving psychiatric care for her trauma. UGM says it will foot the bill for both HS and AN.

In addition, UGM says it will fund AN’s tuition as well as other fees for the remainder of her time at the university. It also says it’s going to review its handling of sexual allegations within the university in the future.

The peaceful resolution did not sit well with many members of the public, even those currently employed by UGM.

Some, while unhappy with the outcome of the case, argued that the public’s reactions towards it have been over the top, such as a call to boycott UGM that became popular in the wake of the announcement.

The Yogyakarta Police have already begun an investigation into the case, but it’s still unclear if it will continue after UGM filed a formal letter to the police informing them of the peaceful resolution between HS and AN.

The allegation

The rape allegation was brought to the nation’s attention in November of 2018 thanks to an exposé by the university’s student publication. The alleged rape incident itself, in which HS was said to have forced himself on AN, occurred in June 2017.

AN claims that she didn’t report the incident to the police because she hoped that UGM officials would punish the culprit appropriately. However, she claims that instead of doing so, the culprit was allowed to remain a student at UGM (though the university once said it was considering expelling him amid public pressure) and was told by some officials that said she deserved some of the blame for the rape, all while they tried to prevent the allegation from being leaked to the public.

After the story went viral nationwide, the National Police said no official complaint from the victim was needed to start an investigation into the case and that the local police have already begun looking into it.

People in authority turning a blind eye on allegations of sexual misconduct is unfortunately not rare in Indonesia. In early 2018, a woman in one of the most publicized sexual assault cases in the country told us the police didn’t investigate her case until after she made it go viral on social media.

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