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Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons


Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, domestic abuse, and other forms of violence against women. Violence against women remained poorly documented and significantly underreported by the government, with domestic violence the most common form of violence against women. In its 2015 annual report, the National Commission on Violence Against Women reported more than 320,000 cases of violence against women. Approximately 11,000 cases were categorized as domestic violence. Of these cases, 1,657 were designated as incidents of sexual violence. Social pressure likely deterred many women from reporting domestic violence, and most NGOs working on women’s issues believed the real figure was higher than the available official statistics.

The legal definition of rape covers only forced penetration of sexual organs, and filing a case requires corroboration and a witness. Marital rape is not a specific criminal offense under the penal code, but it is covered under “forced sexual intercourse” in national legislation on domestic violence, and it can be punished with criminal penalties. Reliable nationwide statistics on the incidence of rape continued to be unavailable, although in June the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment announced the creation of a nationwide data center to monitor cases of sexual violence. The ministry was working with the National Statistics Bureau to draft a census to be used as the basis for the center’s launch in 2016. Rape is punishable by four to 14 years in prison. While the government imprisoned perpetrators of rape and attempted rape, sentences were often light, and many convicted rapists received the minimum sentence.

The government ran integrated service centers for women and children (P2TPA) in all 34 provinces and approximately 242 districts. These centers provided counseling and support services to women and children who were victims of violence. The larger provincial service centers provided more comprehensive psychosocial services, while the quality of support at the district-level centers varied. Women living in rural areas or districts where no such center was established had difficulty receiving support services. Nationwide, police operated “special crisis rooms” or “women’s desks” where female officers received reports from female and child victims of sexual assault and trafficking and where victims found temporary shelter.

In addition to the provincial-level task forces, which are present in 31 of 34 provinces, the number of task forces at the local (district or city level) rose from 166 in 2014 to 191 of 497 districts/towns in 2015. Task forces at the district/city level are usually chaired by the local P2TP2A or the local Office of Social Affairs (Dinas Sosial). Antitrafficking task forces often helped to provide hospitals with Integrated Service Centers (PPT) for violence and trafficking victims. PPTs were available at 123 hospitals throughout the country.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C occurred regularly, and there are no laws prohibiting the practice. In 2013, the first nationally representative household survey, the Basic Health Research Survey, found that more than half of girls under the age of 11 experienced some form of FGM/C, and 79 percent of these underwent the procedure before they were six months old. There was no official data about what types of FGM/C were practiced, but according to the National Commission on Violence Against Women and other NGOs, the vast majority of FGM/C was Type IV. In urban areas midwives performed the majority of FGM/C, while in rural areas traditional birth attendants were the most common practitioners of FGM/C. The National Commission on Violence Against Women reported that midwives and traditional birth attendants often included female circumcision as part of a birth service “package” and advocated for the procedure to their clients. In 2014 the Ministry of Health revoked a 2010 decree establishing guidelines for the safe practice of FGM/C. The 2010 decree overturned the ministry’s outright ban on FGM/C, which the Indonesian Ulamas Council (MUI) and other religious groups protested. The revocation transfers authority to regulate FGM/C to a health advisory body that includes religious leaders. Although there is no mention of FGM/C in the Quran, according to a 2016 Islamic Relief field study, many local religious leaders recommended the practice. On September 22, Minister for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Yembise announced a new campaign to end FGM/C focused on engaging religious leaders and civil society.

Sexual Harassment: Article 281 of the criminal code, which prohibits indecent public acts, serves as the basis for criminal complaints stemming from sexual harassment. Violations of this article are punishable by imprisonment of up to two years and eight months and a small fine.

Reproductive Rights: The government recognizes the basic right of couples and individuals to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children. It also recognizes their basic right to manage their reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. According to a 2013 survey by the Ministry of Health, 59.3 percent of married women used modern contraceptives. Estimates for contraceptive prevalence among all women ranged from 62 percent to 70 percent, although local NGOs reported that unmarried women found it significantly more difficult than married women to access contraceptives.

According to a 2015 report from the World Health Organization, UN Population Fund, UNICEF, and the World Bank, the maternal mortality ratio was 126 per 100,000 live births, down from 165 in 2015. The primary causes of maternal mortality were postpartum hemorrhage, pre-eclampsia, and sepsis. According to the Ministry of Health, as many as 69 percent of all births were delivered by midwives. Oversight for midwifing programs was transferred from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Education and Culture. The Ministry of Health and international NGOs identified several factors contributing to the maternal mortality rate, including lack of training for midwives and traditional birth attendants, continued lack of access to basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric care, and limited availability of essential maternal and neonatal medications. Hospitals and health centers did not always properly manage complicated procedures, and financial barriers and the limited availability of qualified health personnel caused problems for referrals for complications. A woman’s economic status, level of education, and age at first marriage also affected maternal mortality. In 2014 an NGO coalition filed a judicial challenge to the Marriage Law, identifying the 16-year-old minimum marriage age as a significant contributing factor to the rate of maternal mortality. In June the Constitutional Court rejected this challenge.

Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men under family, labor, property, and nationality laws. The law does not grant widows equal inheritance rights. The law states that women’s participation in the development process must not conflict with their role in improving family welfare and educating the younger generation. The 1974 Marriage Law establishes the legal age of marriage as 16 for women and 19 for men. The same law also designates the man as the head of the household. As such, married women who work outside the home are taxed at a higher rate than working husbands, who receive preferential tax treatment as the head of household.

Divorce is available to both men and women. Many divorcees received no alimony, since there was no system to enforce such payments. If there is no prenuptial agreement, joint property is divided equally. The law requires a divorced woman to wait 40 days before remarrying; a man may remarry immediately.

The National Commission on Violence against Women reported 421 policies that discriminate against women were issued by provincial, district and municipal administrations between 2009 and 2014. These include “morality laws” and antiprostitution regulations such as those in Bantul and Tanggerang that were used to detain women walking alone at night. There are more than 70 local regulations that require women to dress conservatively or wear a headscarf. The Ministry of Home Affairs is responsible for “harmonizing” local regulations that are not in line with national legislation, but as of November the ministry had not invoked this authority to overturn any gender discriminatory local regulations.

Under Aceh’s special authority to implement sharia regulations, the city of Banda Aceh established a local regulation in June 2015 that forbids cafes and restaurants from serving unaccompanied women or using female employees after 11 p.m. Female Muslim residents of Aceh province are prohibited from wearing tight pants and must wear headscarves. One district in Aceh prohibits women from sitting astride when riding as a motorcycle passenger.

Women faced discrimination in the workplace, both in hiring and in gaining fair compensation.


Birth Registration: Citizenship is primarily acquired through one’s parents or through birth in national territory. Without birth registration, families may face difficulties in accessing government-sponsored insurance benefits and enrolling children in schools.

A 2012 ruling by the Constitutional Court overturned a 1974 law that stipulated children born outside of registered marriages shared civil ties only with their mother. The ruling provides for the inclusion of DNA evidence in determining paternity and confers inheritance rights to the father’s property for children born outside of registered marriages.

The law prohibits fees for legal identity documents issued by the civil registry. Nevertheless, NGOs reported that in some districts local authorities did not provide free birth certificates.

On February 29, the home minister released a ministerial decree to accelerate the provision of birth certificates by simplifying the process to obtain identity cards and birth certificates. In the past citizens were required to provide a letter from their districts chiefs when applying for birth certificates and identity cards at civil registration offices.

Education: Although the constitution guarantees free education, most schools were not free, and poverty puts education out of reach for many children. In June 2015 the government introduced a nationwide compulsory 12-year school program, but the implementation was uneven. The Ministry of Education, representing public and private schools, and the Ministry of Religion for Islamic schools and madrasahs, introduced a new system in which students from low-income families use a government-provided “Smart Card” to go to specific banks twice a year to withdraw a certain amount to support their educational needs. The amount is different for elementary, junior high, and senior high school students.

According to a 2014 UNICEF report, more than six million children between the ages of 7 and 18 did not attend school. Enrollment in primary and secondary education was virtually the same for both girls and boys, but according to NGOs, boys continued to be more likely to finish school, particularly in rural areas.

Child Abuse: Child labor and sexual abuse continue to be serious problems in Indonesia. The law prohibits child abuse, but government efforts to combat it were slow and ineffective. The Child Protection Act addresses economic and sexual exploitation of children, as well as adoption, guardianship, and other issues. Some provincial governments did not enforce these provisions. In 2014 the National Commission on Child Protection (KPAI) found that 52 percent of the 4,638 cases reported to them were cases of child sexual abuse. In 2015, 58 percent of the 6,726 child abuse cases reported were of a sexual nature.

Between January and April, the KPAI received 339 reports of child abuse, 48 percent related to sexual abuse.

In April the KPAI launched a Pendawa Care application for online consultation on child protection and a 24-hour call center for processing complaints of violence.

Similarly, in July the Ministry of Education launched a hotline for students to report abuse occurring in schools.

On May 25, in response to widespread public outcry over the rape and killing of a 14-year-old girl in Bengkulu, the president signed PERPU (Government Regulation in Lieu of Law) No 1/2016 revising the Child Protection Law No 23/2002. The regulation increases punishment for child sex offenders, including the death penalty or life imprisonment depending on the severity of the case. The regulation also allows for chemical castration of offenders, the announcement of their identity to the public, and the installation of electronic detection devices to monitor their whereabouts. On October 12, the national legislature passed legislation allowing for PERPU to become law.

According to a 2012 report by the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment, approximately 3.4 million children ages 10 to 17 were working because of poverty.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal distinction between a woman and a girl was not clear. The Marriage Law sets the minimum marriageable age at 16 for women (19 for men), but the Child Protection Law states that persons under age 18 are not adults. A girl who marries has adult legal status. Girls frequently married before reaching the age of 16, particularly in rural and impoverished areas. Based on a 2015 report released by National Statistics Agency (BPS) and UNICEF, approximately 23 percent of women were married before they were 18. The percentage was significantly higher in rural areas (27 percent) than in cities (17 percent). See also the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): See information for girls under 18 in women’s section above.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The penal code forbids consensual sex outside of marriage with girls under the age of 15. The law does not address heterosexual acts between women and boys, but it prohibits same-sex acts between adults and minors.

The Pornography Law prohibits child pornography and dictates a maximum sentence of 12 years and fine of IDR six billion ($447,000) for producing or trading in child pornography. On August 30, the National Police’s Cyber Crime Sub-Directorate uncovered an online male child prostitution ring and raided a hotel in Bogor, West Java. During the raid police rescued seven victims, including six underage males and one 18-year-old, and arrested three suspects. One of the suspects used his Facebook account to run the child prostitution business. Police subsequently discovered the postings of 99 underage victims on the Facebook page. According to the police investigation team, the suspect’s syndicate recruited at least 148 victims, both underage and adult males.

UNICEF estimated that nationwide 40,000 to 70,000 children were victims of sexual exploitation and that 30 percent of all females in prostitution were children.

Displaced Children: According to government reports, there were at least 8,000 street children in Jakarta and as many as 230,000 nationwide. The government continued to fund shelters administered by local NGOs and paid for the education of some street children.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For more information see the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at


The Jewish population in Indonesia was extremely small. Some fringe media outlets published anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, the judicial system, or provision of other state services. The law does not contain specific requirements regarding access to air travel and other transportation, but it mandates accessibility to public facilities for persons with disabilities. The government, however, did not always enforce this provision. Persons with disabilities are legally classified into three categories: physically disabled, intellectually disabled, and physically and intellectually disabled. These categories are further divided for schooling. In 2013 the KPU signed a memorandum of agreement with several NGOs to increase the participation of persons with disabilities in the national elections. As a result 3.6 million voters with disabilities were eligible to vote in the 2014 elections. The General Election Network for Disability Access (Agenda) found that only 16 percent of polling stations in Aceh, Central Java, Jakarta, South Kalimantan, and South Sulawesi provinces were fully accessible to persons with disabilities.

Regional elections in 2015 saw increased accessibility for voters with disabilities across the country. Improvements were not uniform around the country, however. Voting stations in urban areas with wealthier tax bases were generally better equipped and had better-trained staff than those in rural areas.

Persons with disabilities also faced lingering social and cultural stigmas that depressed accurate counting of persons with disabilities, in turn resulting in resource underallocation. Due to social stigmas that view persons with disabilities as “spiritually deficient,” persons with disabilities commonly failed to pursue the accommodations to which they are entitled.

The law provides children with disabilities the right to an education and rehabilitative treatment. According to NGO data, there were 1.4 million children with disabilities in the country, and fewer than 4 percent had access to education. According to government statistics from 2008 and 2009, there were 1,686 schools dedicated to educating children with disabilities, 1,274 of them private. Children with disabilities were reportedly seven times less likely to attend school than other school-age children. More than 90 percent of blind children were reported to be illiterate.

Early in the year, the DPR passed a comprehensive disability rights law that requires improved access and accommodations for persons with disabilities, including provisions for reasonable accommodation at work, and establishing new employment quotas, concessions, and prohibitions. It also imposes criminal sanctions for violators of the rights of persons with disabilities.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The government officially promotes racial and ethnic tolerance, but in practice in some areas, religious majorities took discriminatory action against religious minorities and local authorities made no effective response.

Indigenous People

The government views all citizens as “indigenous”; however, it recognizes the existence of several “isolated communities” and their right to participate fully in political and social life. These communities include the myriad Dayak tribes of Kalimantan, families living as sea nomads, and the 312 officially recognized indigenous groups in Papua. Indigenous persons, most notably in Papua and West Papua, were subject to discrimination, and there was little improvement in respecting their traditional land rights. Mining and logging activities, many of them illegal, posed significant social, economic, and logistical problems to indigenous communities. The government failed to prevent companies, often in collusion with the local military and police, from encroaching on indigenous peoples’ land. In Papua and West Papua, tensions continued between indigenous Papuans and migrants from other provinces, who were usually Muslim. Melanesians in Papua, who were mostly Christians, cited endemic racism and discrimination as drivers of violence and economic inequality in the region.

In 2013 the Constitutional Court ruled in favor of an alliance of indigenous peoples that filed a suit challenging parts of a 1999 Law on Forestry. The ruling negated default state ownership of forests that fall within areas of custom-based or indigenous communities. Nevertheless, access to ancestral lands continued to be a major source of conflict throughout the country. Large corporations and government regulations displaced persons from their ancestral lands. Central and local government officials reportedly extracted kickbacks from mining and palm oil companies in exchange for land access at the expense of the local populace. Land rights advocates reported receiving threats from government and private parties after publicizing these issues.

The government program of transferring migrants from overcrowded islands, such as Java and Madura, diminished greatly in recent years. Communal conflicts often occurred along ethnic lines in areas with sizeable transmigrant populations (see Other Societal Violence and Discrimination below).

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The antidiscrimination law does not apply to LGBTI individuals, and the government took almost no action to prevent discrimination against LGBTI persons. LGBTI organizations and NGOs were able to hold low-key events in public places, although often without proper licenses. Families often put LGBTI minors into therapy, confined them to their homes, or pressured them to marry. Children perceived to be LGBTI are frequently bullied.

The Pornography Law criminalizes the production of media depicting consensual same-sex sexual activity and classifies such activity as deviant. Fines range from IDR 250 million to seven billion ($18,600 to $522,000) and sentences from six months to 15 years, with increased penalties of one-third for crimes involving minors.

In addition, local regulations across the country criminalize same-sex sexual activity. For example, the province of South Sumatra and the municipality of Palembang have local ordinances criminalizing same-sex sexual activity together with prostitution. Under a local ordinance in Jakarta, security officers consider any transgender person found in the streets at night to be a sex worker.

According to media and NGO reports, local authorities sometimes abused transgender individuals and forced them to pay bribes following detention. In some cases the government failed to protect LGBTI individuals from societal abuse. Police corruption, bias, and violence caused LGBTI individuals to avoid interaction with police. Officials often ignored formal complaints by victims and affected persons. In criminal cases with LGBTI victims, police investigated the cases reasonably well, as long as the suspect was not affiliated with the police.

The country experienced a notable increase in anti-LGBTI rhetoric during the year, including from senior government officials. In January, after learning of the presence of a support group for LGBTI students on a University of Indonesia campus, the minister for technology, research, and higher education called for a restriction to prohibit LGBTI persons from participating in activities at universities, claiming they threaten “Indonesian morals and norms.”

In February Minister of Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu described LGBTI persons as part of a dangerous “proxy war” threatening the country’s sovereignty, while some members of the national legislature and civil society groups called for the government to adopt new regulations or laws against the LGBTI movement.

The increase in anti-LGBTI public statements reportedly catalyzed the forced closure on February 24 of Al Fatah Pesantren Waria, an Islamic boarding school for transgender students in Yogyakarta. Front Jihad Islam and local authorities initiated the closure, arguing that the school lacked licenses and disturbed local residents.

On March 7, the sharia legislative body in Aceh issued a recommendation that salon and barbershop owners not employ LGBTI individuals, especially not transvestites. NGOs expressed concern that Sharia police in Aceh increased surveillance of the local LGBTI community in anticipation of further arrests under the new criminal code.

In May the Constitutional Court began judicial review of a petition submitted by activist group, the Family Love Alliance, seeking to outlaw sex outside of marriage, including homosexual activity. Hearings continued at year’s end.

On August 11, the president’s spokesperson stated that all citizens have individual rights, including the right to protection from violence, regardless of sexual orientation. In a public interview in October, President Jokowi stated that “police must act” against any groups that seek to inflict violence on LGBTI individuals and that “there should be no discrimination against anyone.”

Transgender individuals faced discrimination in employment and in obtaining public services and health care. NGOs documented instances of government officials not issuing identity cards to transgender individuals. A 2013 revision to the Civil Administration Law allows transgender individuals officially to change their gender only after the completion of sexual reassignment surgery. Some observers claimed the process was cumbersome and degrading because it requires a court order declaring that the surgery is complete and is permitted only under certain undefined special circumstances. On June 3, however, the court in Bantul Regency, Yogyakarta, granted a 75-year-old lawyer a gender change. Based on medical examination and humanity, the court decided she should be granted the right to become a man, the third time the court granted the gender change in Bantul.

Candidates who were selected as new KPI (Indonesian Broadcasting Commission) commissioners were vetted on their views of LGBTI issues. According to sources, the selected candidates all oppose broadcasting with LGBTI content.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

Stigmatization and discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS were pervasive. The government, however, encouraged tolerance, took steps to prevent new infections, and provided free antiretroviral drugs, although with numerous administrative barriers. The government’s position of tolerance was adhered to unevenly at all levels of society. For example, prevention efforts were often muted for fear of antagonizing religious conservatives. Diagnostic, medical, or other fees and expenses that put the cost of free antiretroviral drugs beyond the reach of many compounded barriers to accessing these drugs. Persons with HIV/AIDS reportedly continued to face employment discrimination.

On February 5, Mayor of Bogor, Bima Arya, passed a local regulation stipulating that individuals getting married must take an HIV/AIDS test. The regulation requires every person wishing to marry to receive a confidential medical check that is provided for free.

On July 25, the FPI broke up an HIV/AIDs awareness event in Pekanbaru, Riau, that included providing information related to HIV/AIDS, followed by blood tests.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

Minority religious groups were victims of societal discrimination that occasionally included violence. Affected groups were Ahmadis, Shias, and other non-Sunni Muslims. In areas where they constituted a minority, Sunni Muslims and Christians were also victims of societal discrimination.

Ethnic and religious tensions sometimes contributed to localized violence, and tensions between local residents and migrant workers occasionally led to violence. Several NGOs noted that both ethnic tensions between migrants and locals and religious tensions were factors in these incidents.

On March 7, a large number of protesters rallied in front of the Santa Clara Church construction site in Bekasi, West Java, claiming that the church’s permit was invalid. Authorities dispatched approximately 1,750 officers from the Bekasi Resort Police to guard the site. Police initially secured the location, but when the bulk of the protesters moved on to the Bekasi mayor’s office, a residual detachment of approximately 150 officers was unable to prevent protesters from damaging the site and spray-painting on the front of the construction gate that the “church is sealed in the name of public concern.”

On July 31, a mob burned 10 Buddhist temples and a social foundation office in Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra, after a woman of Chinese ethnicity complained about the speaker volume of a local mosque and the story spread on social media. Authorities strongly denounced the incident and took immediate steps to stabilize the situation. North Sumatra police arrested nine suspects in the incident and charged one person for inciting violence using social media under the hate speech law.

In September 2015 a mob abducted and beat to death Salim “Kancil,” an environmental activist who was preparing to protest an illegal sand mining concession run by PT Indo Multi Mineral Sejahtera near Lumajang, East Java. The mob also attacked Kancil’s fellow activist Tosan (no last name), who required hospitalization after severe beatings. Police arrested 22 persons in connection with the killing, all of whom faced judicial proceedings, and eventually implicated a local village head with ties to the illegal mining operation as the leader. The village head admitted he had bribed three local police officers to guard the mining operation, and, NGOs contended, to look the other way during the killing. The three officers were found guilty in an internal ethics tribunal and sentenced to an official reprimand, demotions, and 21 days in detention. On June 23, the Surabaya District Court sentenced the village head and his coconspirator to 20 years in prison.

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