Indonesia's top court jails woman who reported sexual harassment

by Reuters
Friday, 5 July 2019 09:16 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: An Indonesian woman walks at a mosque in Jakarta September 12, 2007. REUTERS/Beawiharta

Image Caption and Rights Information
The woman recorded some phone calls from the principal of a school where she worked and gave a recording to a third person, and distributed it on an electronic device

JAKARTA, July 5 (Reuters) - Indonesia's Supreme Court has jailed a woman who tried to report her employer for alleged sexual harassment, in a ruling that rights groups said on Friday 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 ($35,383) fine. The Supreme Court's Thursday decision cannot be appealed.

"We are concerned about the impact of this decision because it opens a door for perpetrators of sexual violence to criminalise victims," said Ade Wahyudin, executive director of the Legal Aid Foundation for the Press.

Maknun 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, and distributed it on an electronic device, which resulted in the principal losing his job, the documents showed.

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

Maknun's legal team 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," said Aziz Fauzi, a lawyer for Maknun.

President Joko Widodo, who recently won a second term in office, said earlier Maknun could seek clemency from him if she did not find justice through a judicial review.

A spokeswoman for the president's office declined to comment on the latest ruling.

Indonesia's #MeToo movement has gained some 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.

(Reporting by Tabita Diela; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Robert Birsel)

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