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Domestic abuse no showbiz

Jakarta Post Editorial - October 22, 2022

Editorial board, Jakarta – The ongoing saga of domestic violence involving a couple of celebrities has inevitably drawn huge public attention, but it is appalling to find comments on social media by people who should know better than condoning the act to the point of normalizing abuses in a marriage.

When singer Lesti Kejora filed a report with the police against husband Rizki Billar, a TV persona-slash YouTuber, in late September, this gave an opportunity for the public to openly discuss an issue which in the past would have been swept under the carpet.

Some celebrities and influencers, out of stupidity, decided to take the discourse on social media, with the hashtag #KDRT (the Indonesian acronym for domestic violence), in the wrong direction.

Dangdut singer Inul Daratista posted a video claiming that beatings are normal in the first years of marriage. Many parents believe women should not speak openly about their husband's abusive behavior to protect the family's reputation.

Actor Baim Wong created a video where his wife, model Paula Verhoeven, filed a domestic abuse report with the police in Jakarta. The couple apologized after a public backlash when it became clear that it was a hoax. They are clearly oblivious that domestic abuse is no joke.

Others are completely insensitive. A day after Lesti's report to the police, private TV channel SCTV announced that Rizky was voted winner of the Infotainment Award for the Gorgeous Dad category. The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission had the common sense to tell SCTV not to give the spotlight to alleged perpetrators of violence. The station eventually suspended the award.

The #KDRT discourse on social media sheds light on the entrenched patriarchal system in our society. Eliminating domestic violence indeed remains a daunting challenge.

A few public figures with large followers tried to take the discourse in the right direction.

Singer Andien Aisyah said her mother's support helped her get out of an abusive relationship she once endured. Her story could enlighten followers who are going through a similar ordeal. Popular Muslim preacher Mamah Dedeh used her influence to remind her followers not to stay in an abusive marriage and that everyone has control over their body. We need more Andiens and Dedehs to drive home the message that domestic violence is a serious matter.

It is certainly a crime. The recently passed Sexual Violence Eradication Law mandates investigation into perpetrators and protection for victims of domestic abuse cases. Violence at home is now a state affair.

This is why the police's decision to drop the investigation into the Lesti case, citing that restorative justice has been upheld, is regrettable. Lesti has since withdrawn the complaint, saying her husband had apologized and promised not to commit it again.

Going by many stories of domestic violence in the past, most likely this was not the first time that Lesti had been subjected to a beating and, now in the absence of further police intervention, probably will not be the last time either.

Lesti and the police would save many women and children prone to domestic violence if they go through with the case all the way to a court settlement. Alas, the laws against domestic abuse may now lack deterrence.

From this episode, however, we can hope for a society that is more aware of domestic violence and takes part in the collective efforts to eradicate the crime. Their contribution can take forms in showing empathy to victims or telling the police when they know a crime happens.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/opinion/2022/10/21/domestic-abuse-no-showbiz.htm