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Women rights defender criticizes abortion aspect in Sexual Violence Bill

Tempo - March 30, 2022

Arrijal Rachman, Jakarta – The Women's Rights and Victims of Sexual Violence Defenders Network representative Ratna Batara Munti on Wednesday criticized the provision on abortion contained in the Sexual Violence Bill (RUU TPKS).

Ratna, who is also the coordinator of the Legal Aid Foundation of the Indonesian Women's Association for Justice (LBH APIK), said the aspect of abortion should not be considered by lawmakers as a form of sexual violence crime.

"In regards to the deliberation of the RUU TPKS on abortion, we suggest the government and House of Representatives (DPR) withdraw abortion as a sexual crime," she wrote in a statement on March 30.

She argues that abortion on its own is not a sexual crime but forcing a person to do so is. Ratna believes the government and legislators should better replace it with the aspect of forcing someone to conduct abortion as a crime.

"Forcing someone to do an abortion is sexual violence, not the act of abortion itself. Women with certain conditions have the right to access abortion that is safe and overseen by the Health Act," she explained.

In general, she stressed, the TPKS Bill must contain aspects that take into account public interests, especially victims of sexual violence, saying that these victims must not be discriminated against. She said that legislators failed to mention the group in the Sexual Violence Bill's deliberation.

An initial draft from the House of Representatives classified five types of violence, which include physical sexual violence, non-physical acts of violence, forced contraception, forced sterilization, and sexual torture. The government then added provisions on sexual slavery and forced marriage into the Bill.

The seven acts of violence had never been covered by other laws, said Law and Human Rights Deputy Minister Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej in a session with the parliament on March 28.

The government has also submitted additional acts of violence to be included in the Bill, which include rape, obscene acts, sexual intercourse, obscene acts and sexual exploitation of children, acts of violating decency against the will of the victim, pornography involving children or pornography that explicitly contains violence, and sexual exploitation.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1576691/women-rights-defender-criticizes-abortion-aspect-in-sexual-violence-bil