Women's Empowerment and Leadership Development for Democratisation

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Indonesia: Women in Aceh are Still Victims of Violence

Published Date: 
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
JPA 231

Based on Bi-Annual Report of the Aceh Monitoring Network 231 (JPA 231) Period 2013-2014

As a commitment to the fulfilment of the rights of the victims/survivors, in 2011 12 women's organizations in Aceh formed the Aceh Monitoring Network 231 (JPA 231) dedicated to collecting, compiling and analyzing data on violence and discrimination against women from various service agencies. The results of this analysis are then written up in a Bi-Annual Report (Catahu).

The purpose of the Bi-Annual Report is to provide accurate data with a comprehensive analysis as a basis to encourage all parties to pay special attention to the issue of violence against women and make efforts to fulfil victims' rights. The Bi-Annual Report is expected to also be a reference for the development of policies and programs as well as changes in management practices and services for women violence victims.  It is also designed to be a media publication and educational resource for the handling of cases of violence against women in Aceh.

The Bi-Annual Report was written using both quantitative and qualitative methods, with the focus of discussion on the cases of violence against women in Aceh during a period of two years, from January 2013-December 2014.

Violence Against Women

Cases of violence against women reported to various institutions are increasing every year, and services and healing treatments available are still not fully able to meet the needs of victims. Across two years, JPA 231 recorded 539 cases of violence against women, consisting of 356 cases in the domestic sphere and 183 cases in the public sphere. Violence against women in the domestic sphere is never a singular act; it is always layered with different forms, ranging from physical violence to psychological, sexual and economic violence. And psychological violence is a form of violence experienced most by women. In addition to psychological violence, sexual violence in the home is also still present at high rates (32 cases of forced sexual intercourse and 27 cases of incest). Children are also still suffering as result of sexual violence in the domestic sphere, with reports of abuse of minors between 8 and 18 years of age.

The most common type of violence against women in the public space is sexual violence (94 of 183 cases). Cases of such violence against minors that occurred during this period also increased significantly (45 cases in 2013 and 57 cases in 2014). As with women victims of violence in the domestic sphere, victims of violence in the public sphere also did not experience these incidents only in one way; in addition to experiencing sexual violence, victims almost always also suffered physical and psychological violence.


In addition to violence, discrimination was also recorded throughout the period 2013 - 2014. JPA 231 noted that women with disabilities and women with HIV and AIDS continue to experience a wide range of discrimination and violence, and that little effort was being made to fulfil their rights or offer them better protection. In many cases of violence against women with disabilities cannot be taken to the level of the courts because they are not able to provide convincing evidence to the investigator. Their testimony tends not to be judged as providing legitimate facts in the investigation process.

The Government of Aceh is also still implementing policies that affect the occurrence of discrimination against women. The government in unprepared to implement the Qanun-Qanun (by-laws) and so people are taking law enforcement duties into their own hands, performing a variety of violence under the pretext of carrying out the law.  JPA 231 noted several women accused of Khalwat (the offence of a man and a woman who are unmarried and unrelated being in close proximity to one another) experienced a variety of physical and psychological abuse, even including rape, by their members of their communities. While the government has made significant efforts to protect people accused of Khalwat, the judicial process has not run properly. In some cases, the government or state officials themselves have in fact committed violence and discrimination. The Qanun Jinayat (Islamic Criminal Law) is also full of discrimination; it contains elements which are incompatible with the constitution, and it enshrines bias, creates uncertainty of meaning, eliminates the guarantee of legal protection for victims, and reinforces impunity for perpetrators and the criminalization of women victims of sexual violence.

Another important point of note is that, after peace lasted almost 10 years, women victims of the conflict are still not getting their rights to justice, truth and recovery. Qanun no. 17 of 2013 on the truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) has yet to be implemented and no attempt at implementing  it has been shown by the government.

Media Representation of Violence Against Women

JPA 231 as conducted media monitoring.  JPA 231 noted that hardly any media coverage of violence against women contains the opinions or voices of the victim or the victim’s family or friends, as parties that understand the occurrence of events. The media monitoring found that a lot of news is dominated by the opinion of the journalist and ignores the opinion of the victim, leaving news very unbalanced. Not only that, the media also tends to use sexist language and to make judgements about cases before verdicts have been passed. The media also frequently uses public official statements that contain sexist bias against victims.

All data was collected and analyzed by the JPA 231, and the data on a small scale only. Not all of the violence experienced by women is reported.  This is for a variety of reasons, with the most common reason given being the need to preserve the reputation of the family and community.

From the results of JPA 231’s research, there are some efforts being made by the Government of Aceh and district and city governments to improve services for women victims of violence. In addition to the Law 11 of 2006 on Governing Aceh—in particular in Article 231 and Qanun 6 of 2009 on Women's Empowerment—there is also Governor Regulation No. 19 of 2013 concerning the Minimum Service Standards for Integrated Handling Cases of Violence Against Women (which is a rule of the implementation of Qanun 6, 2009), and the technical measures for the implementation of the Regulation of the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection 1 in 2010. However, in practice the implementation of these articles still requires much improvement and more serious commitment.

There was also an increase in budget allocation to services for women victims of violence, although this has still not yet reached the instructed amount of 1% of the total budget. The benefits of increasing budget allocation can be seen from the example of the P2TP2A Unit (Integrated Service Centre for Protection of Women and Children). An increase of budget has pushed P2TP2A to function better in providing services to victims. P2TP2A have demonstrated commitment and an improvement of the performance of services for victim has been seen.  It has been working closely with PPA Police Unit, Health Centres and Hospitals. This is a positive example, but improvement is still needed in order to maximize services for women and children victims of violence.

It is important to recognise that women in Aceh have great potential to be a meaningful part of the ongoing development of the region. In the momentum around the 10-year anniversary of peace in Aceh and 70 years of Indonesian independence, we must realise women's rights as citizens to live a better life—one of dignity away from violence and discrimination. To that end, the cessation of violence against women in any form is an urgent need that must be pursued at all levels of society.

From their findings, JPA 231 has recommended to the government that it be more serious in making systematic and continuing efforts for the fulfilment of women's rights to be treated fairly and with dignity as victims, including women victims of conflict and disabled women and women with HIV/AIDS. They also expect all parties to see this situation as a serious reality and to take steps to prevent violence and provide the necessary assistance to women victims of violence.

Banda Aceh, August 13, 2015

Norma Susanti RM

Norma Susanti RM works for women's rights in Aceh.  She attended WELDD training on CVAW and sustainable activism in Jakarta, August 2014.

Culturally Justified Violence Against Women