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. A 2016 government survey found that one-third of women between the ages of 15 and 64 had experienced violence. All forms of violence against women were poorly documented and significantly underreported by the government. Domestic violence was the most common form of violence against women.
The legal definition of rape covers only forced penetration of sexual organs, and filing a case requires a witness or other corroboration. 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. Marital rape is not a specific criminal offense under law but is covered under “forced sexual intercourse” in national legislation on domestic violence and may be punished with criminal penalties.
Civil society organizations operated integrated service centers for women and children in all 34 provinces and approximately 436 districts and provided counseling and support services of varying quality to victims of violence. Larger provincial service centers provided more comprehensive psychosocial services. Women living in rural areas or districts with no such center had difficulty receiving support services, and some centers were only open for six hours a day and not the required 24 hours. 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 32 provincial-level task forces, the government has 191 task forces at the local (district or city) level, which were usually chaired by the head of the local integrated service center or of the local social affairs office.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C reportedly occurred regularly. A 2017 UNICEF report, which reflected 2013 government data, estimated that 49 percent of girls age 11 and younger have undergone some form of FGM/C, despite law prohibiting medical professionals from administering it. The Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection vocally opposed FGM/C and continued an awareness campaign on the dangers of FGM/C. In 2018 religious representatives from 34 provinces signed a religious opinion advising the national board of the Indonesia Ulema Council to issue a fatwa downgrading FGM/C from “recommended” to “not required or recommended.”
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits indecent public acts and serves as the basis for criminal complaints stemming from sexual harassment. Violations are punishable by imprisonment of up to two years and eight months and a small fine. Civil society and NGOs reported sexual harassment was a problem countrywide.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.
Discrimination: The law provides the same legal status and rights for women and men in family, labor, property, and nationality law, but does not grant widows equal inheritance rights. The law states that women’s work outside of their home must not conflict with their role in improving family welfare and educating the younger generation. The law designates the man as the head of the household.
Divorce is available to both men and women. Many divorced women received no alimony, since there was no system to enforce such payments. The law requires a divorced woman to wait 40 days before remarrying; a man may remarry immediately.
The National Commission on Violence against Women viewed many local laws and policies as discriminatory. These included “morality laws” and antiprostitution regulations, such as those in Bantul and Tangerang, that have been used to detain women walking alone at night. More than 70 local regulations 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 and can recommend to the Constitutional Court that local regulations be overturned. To date the ministry has not invoked this authority.
Women faced discrimination in the workplace, both in hiring and in gaining fair compensation (see section 7.d.).
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived through one’s parents or through birth in national territory. Birth registration may be denied if the citizenship of the parents cannot be established. Without birth registration, families may face difficulties in accessing government-sponsored insurance benefits and enrolling children in schools.
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.
Education: Although the constitution specifies free education, most schools were not free, and poverty put education out of reach for many children. The Ministry of Education and Culture, representing public and private schools, and the Ministry of Religious Affairs for Islamic schools and madrassahs, operated a system giving students from low-income families a financial grant for their educational needs.
According to the National Statistics Agency, in 2017 approximately two million children ages seven to 15 did not attend primary or secondary school, and the enrollment rate in some districts was as low as 33 percent.
Child Abuse: The law prohibits child abuse, but NGOs criticized the slow police response to such allegations. The law addresses economic and sexual exploitation of children as well as adoption, guardianship, and other issues. Some provincial governments did not enforce these provisions. On July 18, a court in Mojokerto, East Java, sentenced a man to chemical castration for raping nine children, the first such sentence in the country.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal distinction between a woman and a girl remains unclear. In September the national legislature raised the minimum marriage age for women from 16 to 19; it was already 19 for men. Exceptions to the minimum age requirements are allowed with court approval. NGOs reported that 14 percent of girls in the country marry younger than age 18. Provinces with the highest rates of early marriage include Central Kalimantan, West Java, South Kalimantan, Bangka Belitung, and Central Sulawesi. The main drivers of early marriage are poverty, cultural tradition, religious norms, and lack of sexual reproductive health education.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law forbids consensual sex outside of marriage with girls younger than age 15. It does not address heterosexual acts between women and boys, but it prohibits same-sex sexual acts between adults and minors.
The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children and the use of children in illicit activities. It also prohibits child pornography and prescribes a maximum sentence of 12 years and fine of IDR six billion ($429,000) for producing or trading in child pornography. In June a man in West Java was convicted of possession of child pornography involving 10 girls younger than age 15 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
According to 2016 data from the Ministry of Social Affairs, there were 56,000 underage sex workers in the country; UNICEF estimated that nationwide 40,000 to 70,000 children were victims of sexual exploitation and that 30 percent of female prostitutes were children.
Displaced Children: The Ministry of Social Affairs in 2017 reported there were approximately four million neglected children nationwide, including an estimated 16,000 street children. 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. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.
The country’s Jewish population was extremely small, estimated at approximately 200. In March, Deutsche Welle reported that several Jewish graves in a public cemetery in Jakarta were desecrated.
Jewish leaders reported that it is common for the public to equate all Jews with Israel. In September the interim report by the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion found that “over 57 percent of teachers and lecturers and 53.74 percent of students in Indonesia agreed with a survey statement claiming that ‘Jews are the enemies of Islam.’”
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities and mandates accessibility to public facilities for persons with disabilities. The law applies to education, employment, health services, and other state services but was seldom enforced. Comprehensive disability rights law provisions impose criminal sanctions for violators of the rights of persons with disabilities.
According to the KPU, there were more than 1,247,000 voters with disabilities registered to vote in 2018. The law provides persons with disabilities the rights to vote and run for office.
According to government data, approximately 30 percent of the 1.6 million children with disabilities had access to education. More than 90 percent of blind children reportedly were illiterate.
Despite a government ban, families, traditional healers, and staff in institutions continued to shackle individuals with psychosocial disabilities, in some cases for years. Due to prevalent stigma and inadequate support services, including mental health care, more than 57,000 persons with psychosocial disabilities have been chained or locked in a confined space at least once in their lives. According to the Directorate of Mental Health, approximately 12,800 people with mental health conditions were shackled as of July 2018.
During the year the government took steps to uphold the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities. Several agencies, including Komnas HAM, the National Commission for Violence Against Women, National Commission for Child Protection, the National Ombudsman Commission, and the Witness and Victims Protection Agency, signed an agreement to monitor places where individuals with psychosocial disabilities were shackled or detained.
The government officially promotes racial and ethnic tolerance, but in some areas, religious majorities took discriminatory action against religious minorities, and local authorities made no effective response.
The government views all citizens as “indigenous” but recognizes the existence of several “isolated communities” and their right to participate fully in political and social life. The Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago estimated there are between 50 and 70 million indigenous persons in the country. 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 subjected to discrimination, and there was little improvement in respect for their traditional land rights. The government failed to prevent companies, often in collusion with the local military and police, from encroaching on indigenous persons’ land. Central and local government officials were also alleged to have extracted kickbacks from mining and plantation companies in exchange for land access at the expense of the local populace.
Mining and logging activities, many of them illegal, posed significant social, economic, and legal problems to indigenous communities. Melanesians in Papua cited racism and discrimination as drivers of violence and economic inequality in the region.
In February the Ministry of Home Affairs started issuing E-KTPs with an added religious option, labeled aliran kepercayaan (belief in God), following a 2017 Constitutional Court ruling that stated citizens should be able to select indigenous faiths as an option on their identification cards.
Since 2016 the government granted more than 50,000 acres of forest concessions to nine local indigenous groups. These hutan adat (customary forest) land grants were a new land classification specifically designated for indigenous groups. Nevertheless, access to ancestral lands continued to be a major source of tension throughout the country, and large corporations and the government continued to displace individuals from ancestral lands.
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 sizable internal migrant populations (see section 6, Other Societal Violence and Discrimination).
Although no national law criminalizes same-sex sexual activity, producing media depicting consensual same-sex sexual activity is a crime and classified as deviant. Penalties include fines of IDR 250 million to seven billion ($17,900 to $500,000) and imprisonment from six months to 15 years, with penalties able to be increased by one-third for crimes involving minors. In February the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology ordered Instagram to shut down an account that published comic strips depicting the struggles of gay Muslims in the country, calling it pornographic and claiming it violated information and electronic transactions law.
Aceh’s sharia law makes consensual same-sex sexual activities illegal and punishable by a maximum of 100 lashes, a fine of approximately IDR 551 million ($39,400), or a 100-month prison term. According to Aceh’s sharia agency chief, at least four witnesses must observe individuals engaging in consensual same-sex sexual activities for them to be charged.
Antidiscrimination law does not apply to LGBTI individuals, and discrimination against LGBTI persons continued. Families often put LGBTI minors into therapy, confined them to their homes, or pressured them to marry.
In the run-up to the April elections, NGOs reported an increase in discriminatory bylaws targeting LGBTI individuals, which they believed were issued to appeal to conservative Islamic voters. For example, in November 2018 lawmakers in the West Sumatra city of Pariaman approved new articles in the city bylaws on public order criminalizing “immoral acts” by LGBTI individuals.
According to media and NGO reports, local authorities harassed transgender persons, including by forcing them to conform to the cultural behavior associated with their biological sex, and forced them to pay bribes following detention. In some cases the government failed to protect LGBTI persons from societal abuse. Police corruption, bias, and violence caused LGBTI persons 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 police.
Religious authorities publicly caned a gay couple outside a mosque in Banda Aceh in July 2018 for engaging in same-sex sexual activities (see section 1.c. for more information on sharia in Aceh).
On August 31, Padang residents raided the home of an LGBTI couple. One of the individuals, a guest lecturer at West Sumatra Muhammadiyah University, was fired from his job on September 3 and asked to return to Jakarta. As of October the case was under police investigation.
Transgender persons faced discrimination in employment, obtaining public services, and health care. NGOs documented instances of government officials not issuing identity cards to transgender persons. The law only allows transgender individuals officially to change their gender after the completion of sex 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 permissible only under certain undefined special circumstances.
LGBTI NGOs operated openly but frequently held low-key public events because the licenses or permits required for holding registered events were difficult to obtain.
Stigmatization and discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS were pervasive, despite government efforts to encourage tolerance. The government’s position of tolerance was adhered to inconsistently at all levels of society. For example, fear of religious conservatives often resulted in muted prevention efforts. Diagnostic, medical, or other fees and expenses that put the cost of antiretroviral drugs beyond the reach of many persons compounded societal barriers to accessing these drugs. Persons with HIV/AIDS reportedly continued to face employment discrimination. Closer collaboration between the Ministry of Health and civil society organizations increased the reach of the awareness campaign.
According to a June 2018 Human Rights Watch report, highly publicized police raids targeting gay men and anti-LGBTI rhetoric by officials and other influential figures since 2016 have caused significant disruption to HIV awareness and testing programs.
In January the Islamic Defenders Front, allegedly joined by soldiers and residents, raided the offices of an HIV prevention organization on suspicion that the group had been conducting “LGBT activities” in Pekanbaru, capital of Riau.
Reports continued about discrimination against children with HIV. In February authorities transferred 14 HIV-positive students in a Surakarta public elementary school to special schools after protests from parents of other students.
Minority religious groups were victims of societal discrimination that occasionally included violence. Affected groups included 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, including in Papua and West Papua.