The national women’s commission has urged the government to immediately revise or repeal laws that are in conflict with the principles of an international convention to end violence against women.
Sri Nurherwati, a member of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), said on Wednesday that there were still many laws violating the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which Indonesia has ratified.
“These include the Law on Domestic Abuse, the Law on Human Trafficking, the Law on Citizenship and the Law on Marriage,” she said.
She cited the last law as being particularly egregious, saying its stipulations on the roles of men and women in marriage were often used as justification by husbands accused of domestic abuse.
Sri said the Marriage Law also allowed women to marry when they turn 16, an age she said should be raised to 18.
“Then in 2008 we got the nasty surprise of the Anti-Pornography Law, which is very discriminatory against women,” she said.
Andi Yentriyani, another Komnas Perempuan commissioner, said this and other laws and regulations needed to be revised because they approached women’s issues from a religious standpoint.
“These include the Health Ministry decree on female circumcision, and [regional bylaws] on appropriate dress for women,” she said.
Komnas Perempuan has identified at least 207 bylaws it says discriminate against women, up from 154 bylaws in 2009.
This coincided with a sixfold increase in the number of cases of violence against women between 2007 and 2011, according to Desti Murdijana, the commission’s deputy chairwoman.
She decried the lack of crisis and counseling centers to help in these cases, even as the number of victims mounts.
As of August 2011, Komnas Perempuan identified just 400 government-run crisis centers, mostly in Java, and 42 crisis centers run by communities in 20 provinces.
“That means that there are fewer than 500 women’s crisis centers to deal with more than 100 million women across Indonesia,” Andi said.
She added that women tended not to go to the government’s crisis centers and instead sought alternatives that were easier, friendlier and cheaper.
“Victims also have a fear that if they file a police report, they will be discriminated against,” she said.