JAKARTA (Reuters) – Scores of women and children wearing colourful miniskirts and tight leggings gathered in central Jakarta on Sunday, outraged by a public official’s comments that provocatively dressed women are to blame for sexual assaults.
The protest was in response to remarks by the Indonesian capital city’s governor Fauzi Bowo, who said on Friday that women must not wear revealing clothes to avoid being raped or victimised.
He quickly apologised, but his comments were publicised widely via local media and Twitter.
The rally called on police and the Indonesian government to do more to protect women and help the victims of sexual assault.
Women carried placards saying “Don’t tell us how to dress, tell them not to rape,” and “My body is not porn, instead it’s your dirty mind.”
“Public officials should remain silent rather than making discriminatory statements against women. They are supposed to be sensitive and it is their job to find real solution to violence against women,” said Tunggal Prawestu, a spokeswoman for the event organisers.
Earlier this month a woman was gang-raped in a minivan, a widely used type of public transport, late at night. According to data from Indonesia’s National Commission for Women’s Affairs, there have been more than 100,000 cases of violence against women so far this year, of which almost 4 percent were rape cases.
This year, cities around the world have seen ‘SlutWalk’ rallies, mainly-female protests against sexual violence.
While most Indonesians practice a moderate form of Islam, fundamentalists have been pushing hard to impose stricter Islamic laws. In 2008, an anti-pornography law was passed to ban public displays of nudity and “behaviour that could incite lust.”