Minggu, 08 September 2013

Access to justice for victims and survivors of sexual violence and other form of violence against women (VAW)

This is summary of presentation during session on access to justice for victim of sexual violence, presented in Expert Group Meeting held in Bali by AMAN Indonesia with cooperation UN women. You may find similar content of presentation in other AMAN Indonesia website, associating that this website has connection with AMAN Indonesia.

In relation to the impact of conflict on women, Andi Yetrianti(pictured speaking) from the Indonesian National Women’s Commission (KOMNAS Perempuan) reported that women suffer from physical violence, intimidation, and sexual violence, in all of Indonesia’s conflict areas. Moreover, in relation to the deployment of security forces in Timor Leste, Papua, Aceh and the 1965 era political violence, women suffered from sexual slavery, sexual exploitation, forced contraception and abortion etc. But the biggest obstacles to achieving access to justice are cultural barriersin terms of perceptions of victims of violence against women. In addition, political leaders tend to only portray positive images of the conflict and peace processes. Women also face difficult legal issues in trying to evidence cases of VAW, and in some cases the law is discriminatory. However, there are some opportunities for change, including more open government in Indonesia, continuing bureaucratic reform, apologies from the current government towards victims of the 1965 tragedy, and so on. In addition, Adriana Venny Aryani from the Gender Based Violence Coalition in Indonesia mentioned the role of the Victim Witnesses Protection Agency that provides full protection for witnesses and restitution of victims who lack financial support. These are issues that should be better tackled by the government.

Yunianti Chuzaifah from KOMNAS Perempuan emphasized some of the issues that connect conflict areas and Muslim family law. The absence of a discourse on rape in Islam perhaps created difficulties for Muslim leaders to see VAW from the victims’ perspective when responding to sexual violence in conflict. Rape is considered as zinah, or adultery, therefore women victims of rape are doubly burdened, as they are blamed for being seducers.Other issues are also important. For example, women in Madura, when critically ill, were taken to hospitals further away because the closer hospital was of a different religion. Women do not have the authority to reject their husband’s decision on this. Many women marry men of different sects than themselves and feel forced to convert, facing a conflict between her personal faith and the demands of her husband and community. However, some positive signs are appearing, for example the Middle East (often with more conservative views) is no longer seen as the main patron of Islam. And some religious leaders have changed their attitudes toward victims of Jugun Ianfu (comfort women during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia during the Second World War). 

One powerful strategy to break the taboo on sexual violence is by documenting the stories of women victims of violence. Farina So shared how the Documentation Center of Cambodia applied three strategies to document the lives of Muslim women under the Khmer Rouge through research, advocacy and outreach. 184 cases were identified in the documentation so far, but still women are afraid of retaliation from the former Khmer Rouge because many of them are still alive. Women are also afraid of stigmatization and many are abandoned by their husbands if they are raped or if rape in the past is discovered, as they are considered no longer ‘pure.’We also have to be careful in understanding cases of rape and forced marriage. Many women were forced to marry the rape perpetrator; therefore rape and forced marriage are essentially the same thing.

There was no discussion in this session due to time constraints. Jeannie Manipon as moderator concluded the session by underlining some key points, including that conflict could contribute to shaping cultural violence (and vice versa), the effect of militarized are as on women, the breakdown of the rule of law in conflict areas and its impact on access to justice for women, and women bodies as the sites for contestation of power. In anticipating this, some strategies could be used such as storytelling and documentation from victims of violence, advocacy, reinterpretation of texts, coalition-building and movement building and working in formal justice systems.***

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