Nina Loasana, Jakarta – More people are reporting alleged sexual abuse at education institutions to the authorities, even though their complaints often fall on deaf ears, the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) has reported.
The commission has seen a rise in the number of reports of alleged sexual abuse at education institutions. In 2019, Komnas Perempuan received 15 reports on alleged sexual abuse – up from 10 in 2018 and three in 2017.
Of 51 cases reported between 2015 and 2020, most occurred at universities, followed by pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) and regular high schools. Teachers and ustads (Muslim preachers) were most commonly reported as perpetrators, followed by school principals and lecturers.
Many of the cases reported to the authorities reach a dead end as law enforcers make no progress in the case.
In Jombang, East Java, almost a year has passed since MNK, 22, reported alleged rape involving the son of a prominent cleric to authorities. However, her case has yet to be brought to the court.
The abuse allegedly took place in 2017, when then-17-year-old MNK was studying at the Shiddiqiyah boarding school in Jombang. She was expelled from the school after reporting the case to Mochammad Muhtar, the founder of the school and father of the alleged perpetrator, 39-year-old cleric Moch. Subchi Azal Tsani.
The police named Subchi a suspect in the case in November 2019 but have yet to complete the case dossier, even though they have questioned MNK multiple times and asked her to undergo a forensic examination twice.
The case was eventually transferred to the East Java Police after students and members of Shiddiqiyah tarekat (spiritual fraternity) supported the suspect and accused MNK of defaming the cleric.
"It's a very exhausting and difficult process for the victim and her family. The police have made no progress on the case one year after we've reporting it," said Ana Abdillah of the Alliance of Santri City Against Sexual Violence, who had been accompanying MNK.
Komnas Perempuan commissioner Alimatul Qibtiyah said education institutions often dismissed sexual abuse reports or protected the alleged perpetrators to save their reputation.
"Even when victims report their cases to authorities, they tend to face long and difficult legal processes," Alimatul said. "Such impunity hampers measures to prevent sexual violence at schools as well as victims' recovery."
Another commissioner, Siti Aminah Tardi, said the legal system currently did not emphasize the protection of sexual violence victims. "They are often forced to undergo forensic examinations and interrogations more than once, which only brings up traumatic experiences."
Alimatul said Komnas Perempuan was currently working with Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim to issue a ministerial regulation on the prevention of sexual abuse in higher education.
"We also asked the minister to make sexual violence prevention measures a [requirement] for university accreditation."