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Indonesians Light Candles and Seek Justice for Murdered Teenage Rape Victim

Indonesians in central Java region light candle for Yuyun. Photo by Forum Pengada Layanan. Source: ‏@CuteTiel, used with permission

Indonesians in central Java region light candle for Yuyun. Photo by Forum Pengada Layanan. Source: ‏@CuteTiel, used with permission

For nearly a month, the public ignored news of a 13-year-old Indonesian girl being raped by 14 men and murdered last April. Activists and feminist groups subsequently launched a social media campaign calling for justice, finally forcing the issue into the spotlight, and sparking a national discussion about ending sexual violence against women and children.

Yuyun, who was a top student in her class, was found dead with her hands tied at a rubber plantation. Twelve of the suspected rapists have now been arrested, but two are still at large. Most of the suspects are also minors like Yuyun which means they will receive a 10-year jail sentence if found guilty.

The hashtag #nyalauntukyuyun (“Light a candle for Yuyun”) was used enjoining the public to light a candle and demand justice for the young girl.

Internet users shared their sympathies for Yuyun's family, and Indonesian President Jokowi also vowed to arrest the perpetrators:

We're all saddened by the tragic loss of YY. The perpetrators must be arrested and receive maximum punishment. Women and children must be protected from violence.

Many also urged for the passage of the Elimination of Sexual Violence bill:

Peace be with you in the next life. May your death bring change and help save other women.

Solidarity for Yuyun. Stop violence against women.

Petition for the Commission VII of the House of Representatives to urgently pass the Sexual Violence Eradication Law.

Victim Blaming

Despite the outpouring of messages of compassion for Yuyun's family, there are also those who chose to accuse the victim for somehow provoking the men to rape and murder her.

Diana Nurwidiastuti, a sex-harassment victim, deplored this attitude:

Karena kita masih sering memandang hina korban pemerkosaan. Karena kita masih menyalahkan tampilan korban, mengkambinghitamkan rok mini sebagai godaan tak tertahankan. Karena kita masih berpikir korban pemerkosaan juga menikmati seks yang dipaksakan. Karena kita tidak memberikan dukungan kepada korban untuk melawan. Karena kita yakin bahwa korban sodomi kelak akan menjadi pelaku yang melahirkan pelaku-pelaku lain dan itu adalah lingkaran setan. Dan karena kita masih menganggap pelecehan seksual adalah musibah dan aib yang perlu disembunyikan.

Because we often look down at rape victims. Because we still blame their appearance, a miniskirt becomes a scapegoat that triggers irresistible temptation. Because we still believe that rape victims enjoy forced sex. Because we encourage victims not to fight back. Because we believe that sodomized victims will one day create other perpetrators and that it's a vicious cycle. And we still believe that sexual harassment is a misfortune and a taboo that should be forgotten.

Others blamed alcohol for the cause of rape. Former minister Tifatul Sembiring from the Islamist party believes that, instead of passing the Anti-Sexual Violence bill, what is more urgent is the proposed anti-liquor law:

Alcohol is the root of all evil. Plenty of evidence around us: rape, murder, hit and run, murder of wife. Support the anti Liquor Law.

Crimes against minors are almost always treated as domestic crimes and often go underreported in Indonesia. News about human trafficking and violence against minors mostly appears in local publications and rarely generates wide national attention.

Last year, the Indonesian Child Protection Commission said that between 2010 and 2014 there are more than 21 million reported case of human rights violations against children, 58 percent of which were sexual crimes. Meanwhile, Indonesia's National Commission on Violence Against Women recorded 16,217 cases of violence against women in 2015.

  • Peter Talbaki

    It is tragic news, this is deeply against international women right law, which it need appropriate approach in tackle it by suing those involved to court for justices and fairness…

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