Indonesia: Sentenced to jail for an abortion, teenage rape survivor is cleared by Supreme Court

Responding to the decision by the Supreme Court of Indonesia to clear a teenager sentenced to prison for terminating a pregnancy resulting from a sexual assault, Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid said:

“This is a landmark ruling for women in Indonesia. This teenager is not a criminal. She is the one who suffered a sexual assault –  and did nothing other than claim her rights over her body. It beggars belief that the courts tried to impose this reckless, vicious and absurd sentence on a teenage victim of sexual violence. She should not have spent a single day in detention.

“We welcome the Supreme Court’s ruling. It must send a message to law enforcement agencies and public prosecutors across the country that their role is to protect victims of rape, not aggravate their suffering.

“Authorities in Indonesia must decriminalise abortion in all circumstances. No woman or girl should face any kind of penalty for seeking or obtaining an abortion. Authorities must further ensure access to safe and legal abortion to all women and girls, particularly to victims of rape, sexual assault or incest. These are Indonesia’s international human rights obligations.”

Background

On 19 July 2018, a 15-year-old girl was sentenced to six months behind bars by the Muara Bulian District Court in Batanghari District, Jambi Province, for getting an abortion after she was raped by her brother. The victim challenged the verdict at the Jambi High Court, which ruled in her favour on 27 August 2018. The prosecutors took the case to the Supreme Court, which has again ruled in the teenager’s favour.

Indonesia has a legal obligation under international human rights law to ensure that victims of rape or incest have timely access to a safe and legal abortion. Moreover, denial of abortion services to women or girls who have become pregnant as a result of rape, sexual assault or incest is a violation of the right to be free from torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.