Indonesian Parliament Passes Long-Awaited Sexual Violence Bill

The Diplomat reports on legislation that has taken over a decade to come to fruition


After nearly a decade, Indonesian lawmakers have approved a long-awaited law on sexual violence that will broaden and deepen the legal definitions of the crimes and provide a new framework within which victims can achieve justice. In a session yesterday, a majority of the lawmakers in President Joko Widodo’s coalition voted to support the bill, which has weathered years of opposition from conservative and Islamic constituencies.

In addition to acknowledging sexual violence as punishable criminal acts, the law has provisions for protection and recovery for the victims, something that is lacking in Indonesia’s Criminal Code. The law also recognizes that men and children can also be victims of sexual violence. (The Criminal Code only recognizes rape and lewd crimes committed by men against women.)

Women’s rights activists have long pointed out that Indonesia lacks a dedicated law for addressing cases of sexual violence.  Most have welcomed the bill, though some have expressed concerns that the law lacks a specific clause on rape, which was removed from the final draft in order to avoid overlapping with proposals to amend the Criminal Code.

According to the Associated Press, the new legislation recognizes nine forms of sexual violence: “physical and nonphysical sexual harassment, sexual torture, forced contraception, forced sterilization, forced marriage, sexual slavery, sexual exploitation, and cyber sexual harassment.”