Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta – The Pantau Foundation, a Jakarta-based journalism research and training organization, gave the 2019 Oktovianus Pogau award on Thursday to two Gadjah Mada University (UGM) students, Citra Maudy Mahanani, 20, and Thovan Sugandi, 22.
Citra and Thovan are the respective writer and editor of the UGM student press Balairung who in November released an investigative report about the experience of a UGM student, given a pseudonym Agni, who said she had been sexually assaulted by a classmate during a community service program (KKN) in Maluku in June 2017.
The report detailed the victim blaming Agni received from some officials in the university after she reported the alleged assault.
Her story went viral and attracted public attention, inspiring an online petition that has been signed by more than 250,000 people as of Friday, demanding UGM to give the victim justice.
"Citra and Thovan are bold in reporting the sensitive issue of sexual abuse on campus. Our hope is that this report will encourage a similar effort from other media, including the students, to defend sexual abuse victims," Andreas Harsono, who was appointed as chairman of the 2019 Oktovianus Pogau Award jury panel, said on Thursday.
On Jan. 8, the Yogyakarta Police summoned Citra and questioned her for about two hours. The decision was criticized by the chairman of the Alliance of Independent Journalists' Yogyakarta branch, Anang Zakaria.
"Reporters cannot be summoned as witnesses. The police should investigate the case by using the information published on Balairung," Anang said recently.
Oktaria Asmarani, who is with the Balairung Publishing Agency and Student Press, said that instead of asking questions about the sexual abuse experienced by Agni, the police asked questions about the publication's writing process, which she called irrelevant to the investigation.
"The Pantau Foundation respects the investigations carried out by the police and Gadjah Mada University, but we also believe that sexual harassment is a worrying phenomenon on various campuses in Indonesia. We appreciate the courage of Citra and Thovan, whatever the results of this investigation of this case will be," Andreas said.
The Oktovianus Pogau award is given annually by the Pantau Foundation in honor of Papuan journalist Oktovianus Pogau, who passed away on Jan. 31, 2016. (evi)