Indonesian Parliament Passes Sexual Violence Law

Indonesian lawmakers approved a long-awaited law on sexual violence on Tuesday, acknowledging sexual violence as a punishable criminal act with provisions for protection and recovery for the victims and that men and children can also be victims of sexual violence.

The majority of the lawmakers in President Joko Widodo’s coalition voted to support the bill, which has taken almost ten years of opposition from conservative and Islamic constituencies.

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

The final draft of the law included prison terms of up to 12 years for crimes of physical sexual abuse, both in marriage and outside, and four years for circulating non-consensual sexual content. 

Based on the new law, perpetrators of sexual exploitation face up to 15 years in prison and a maximum term of nine years for forced marriage and child marriage.

In January, President Joko Widodo expressed his concerns about cases of sexual abuse and called on parliament to speed up deliberations on the new sexual violence law.

“The protection of sexual violence victims should be our common concern which should be urgently addressed,” Joko said.

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