Indonesia's top court jails woman who reported sexual harassment

JAKARTA • Indonesia's Supreme Court has jailed a woman who tried to report her employer for alleged sexual harassment, in a ruling that rights groups yesterday said risked turning victims of sexual abuse into criminals.

The Supreme Court found Baiq Nuril Maknun, who was a teacher on the island of Lombok, guilty of violating strict anti-pornography laws. It overturned her acquittal by a lower court and jailed her for six months.

She was also ordered to pay a 500 million rupiah (S$48,000) fine. The Supreme Court's decision on Thursday cannot be appealed.

Baiq had complained of getting lewd phone calls from the principal of a high school where she worked from 2012, court documents showed.

She recorded some of the phone calls without the knowledge of the headmaster and gave a recording to a third person, as well as distributed it on an electronic device, which resulted in the principal losing his job, the documents showed.

In 2015, the principal reported Baiq to the police, which resulted in her being prosecuted under the anti-pornography law.

Baiq's sentence was condemned by rights groups. "We are concerned about the impact of this decision because it opens a door for perpetrators of sexual violence to criminalise victims," said Mr Ade Wahyudin, executive director of the Legal Aid Foundation for the Press.

Baiq's legal team said she was disappointed with the latest ruling, her last course of appeal.

"She refuses to stop fighting because if she does she's afraid it will make other harassment victims too scared to speak up," Mr Ade told Agence France-Presse.

Another of her lawyers, Mr Aziz Fauzi, said a prison sentence had to be at least two years long before clemency could be sought, but the president could grant an amnesty.

"The only thing possible now is amnesty from the president because we have exhausted all other legal avenues," he said.

President Joko Widodo, who recently won a second term in office, had earlier said Baiq could seek clemency from him if she did not find justice through a judicial review. A spokesman for the President's office declined to comment on the latest ruling.

Indonesia's #MeToo movement has gained a bit of traction, with some women sharing their experiences of sexual harassment.

But the movement has had limited impact in the predominately conservative society of the world's most populous Muslim country, compared with that seen in some other countries.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2019, with the headline 'Indonesia's top court jails woman who reported sexual harassment'. Print Edition | Subscribe