Indonesia approves amnesty for woman who recorded harassment
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A woman sentenced to prison for recording her boss’s sexual harassment wept and lawmakers clapped as Indonesia’s parliament on Thursday unanimously approved an amnesty recommended by the country’s president.
Baiq Nuril Maknun’s ordeal began in 2014 when she received telephone calls from the headmaster at a school on Lombok where she taught describing his sexual relationship with another woman. The headmaster, identified as Haji Muslim in court documents, also insisted Maknun accompany him and his sexual partner on trips.
The case has become a #MeToo moment for Indonesia, a conservative nation that tolerates child marriage, has high levels of violence against women and imposes virginity tests on women who want to join the military or police.
At parliament on Wednesday, Maknun said, “Don’t let anyone else have an experience like mine. It hurt so much, I hope there won’t be any more victims, and women should dare to speak up.”
During her ordeal, Maknun was afraid to report the headmaster but recorded one of the calls and later played it to colleagues to dispel rumors she was having an affair with him.
Without Maknun’s consent, the recording also circulated through Mataram, the main city on the deeply conservative island, and the local education agency reported Maknun to police, who prosecuted her for violating an electronic communications law.
She was sentenced to six months in prison and given a hefty fine, which was overturned on appeal but then later reinstated by the Supreme Court.
Amnesty International said there is one more step for Maknun’s case to be fully resolved, which is President Joko Widodo giving his formal assent to the amnesty. He is expected to do that without much delay.
“This would be a historic victory for victims of sexual abuse in Indonesia,” said Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid in a statement.
Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly told parliament that amnesty for Maknun was in line with Widodo’s national development plan that includes protecting women from all kinds of violence.
“We can’t turn a blind eye to this case,” Laoly said, “It will only discourage women who experience similar cases from speaking up and fighting for their dignity.”