Foto: Subekti/Tempo Foto: Subekti/Tempo

Indonesia: Authorities Must Reform Laws to Fully Protect Survivors of Sexual Harassment

Responding to the decision of the West Nusa Tenggara Police to drop their investigation into an offence of sexual harassment, Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid said:

“The law in Indonesia has clearly failed to protect victims as it does not contain a clear definition of sexual harassment and fails to specifically mention verbal sexual harassment or other forms of harassment carried out online or on other platforms. The police were able to reject a report filed by Nuril, a former contract teacher who alleges she was sexually harassed by the principal of the school where she worked, by claiming that the recorded phone conversation in which the principal allegedly harassed Nuril did not constitute an offence because ‘there was no physical contact’ between the two. The existing gaps in the law fail to protect victims and allow for impunity for sexual offences in the country.

Worst of all in this case, it was Nuril herself who was subject to criminal prosecution for recording the conversation. Charged with ‘sharing information violating decency’, she was sentenced to 6 months in prison in November last year. Nuril is now seeking to overturn her sentence by filing a case review petition at the Supreme Court.”

“Authorities in Indonesia must revise the definition of sexual harassment in the criminal code and include verbal sexual harassment and other forms of it as offences. This is a necessary step to enable effective investigations into all cases of sexual harassment in the future.” to be able to ”


Nuril says she received repeated calls from the principal. Eventually, she decided to record one of the conversations and share the recording with one of her colleagues. The principal later found out about the recording and reported Nuril to the police for recording the conversation and distributing it. The police charged Nuril with violating the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law for ‘sharing information violating decency’. On 26 July 2017, The Mataram State District court on West Nusa Tenggara freed Nuril and cleared her of all charges but, surprisingly, the Supreme Court overturned the decision on 14 November 2018, and ordered Nuril to serve a jail term of six months. Nuril later reported Muslim to the police over allegations of sexual harassment, but the police dropped their investigation.

On January 23, Nuril and her lawyer visited Amnesty International’s office. In a police document seen by Amnesty International, the police claimed their investigation did not find any sexual harassment offence in the case and “there was no witnesses who saw, heard and knew the incident” despite the existence of a recording of one of the phone calls. Police investigators told Nuril’s lawyer that they believed that the principal’s act did not constitute sexual harassment “because there were no physical contacts” between the two.