Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta – Religious and civic leaders in Indonesia have united to launch a 16-day campaign against gender-based violence and to push lawmakers to immediately pass an anti-sexual violence bill.
The group, calling itself the Act-Together Network to Stop Violence against Women and Children, kicked off the campaign with a virtual interfaith prayer session on Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
It will include virtual talk shows and discussion programs on violence against women and children as well as events calling for the passing of the sexual violence eradication bill, which has been pending in parliament. The campaign ends on Dec. 10 – Human Rights Day.
Organizers say it is Indonesia's contribution to an annual international campaign launched by the Women's Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and reinforces similar campaigns conducted in Indonesia in recent years.
"We have encountered and helped many women and children who were victims of violence. That is why we launched the campaign and through it we want to work hand in hand with society to help them further and bring an end to gender-based violence," said Sister Caecilia Supriyati from the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd and coordinator of the group.
There were 24,786 cases of sexual violence recorded against women between 2016 and 2020 in Indonesia, according to the National Commission on Violence Against Women. Of that number, 7,344 cases involved rape and less than 30 percent of these cases were brought to court.
We hope that more people will understand about what gender-based violence is really about and finally work together
"The first task is to work together to push the lawmakers to immediately pass the bill," said the nun.
The long-awaited bill aimed at protecting women and children from sexual predators has been on and off the agenda in parliament since 2012.
"We hope that more people will understand about what gender-based violence is really about and finally work together in eliminating violence against women and children," Sister Supriyati said.
Speaking to UCA News, Jesuit Father Ignatius Ismartono, an adviser to Sahabat Insan, a migrant group taking part in the campaign, said his group decided to join the campaign because gender-based violence "is a human rights issue and the main root of other crimes against women, such as human trafficking."