The National Council for Catholic Education in Indonesia welcomed the decision of the country’s Supreme Court upholding a decree that aims to prevent sexual violence — including verbal, non-physical, and digital acts — in schools.
The organization of Catholic educators described the ruling as part of the changing attitude of various sectors in Indonesia that view sexual violence as a serious problem for all.
“I consider this as good news for the collective movement to fight sexual abuse,” said Father Vinsensius Darmin Mbula, council chairman.
He said Catholic educational institutions have also launched efforts to prevent sexual abuse in schools.
A group of parliamentarians from across Southeast Asia said the Supreme Court decision and the recent approval of the Anti-Sexual Violence bill in Parliament “are a breath of fresh air in Indonesia.”
In a statement on April 22, the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights said “much remains to be done, especially on implementation, but these are steps in the right direction towards gender equality and bringing about better protection for all Indonesian women and girls.”
The parliamentarians said Indonesia’s Supreme Court “has made the right decision in upholding the decree, a decision that is aligned with the principle of gender equality and freedom of religion or belief and guarantees the individual rights of all Indonesians to be free of harassment regardless of their gender.”
The National Commission on Violence Against Women also welcomed the court ruling, saying it is a manifestation of the court’s support for women in higher education institutions.
The decree was issued by Nadiem Anwar Makarim, Indonesia’s minister of education, culture, research and technology, in response to reports of rampant sexual abuse in universities.
Aside from providing a wider definition of sexual violence, the decree introduced an array of punishments for perpetrators in universities, including dismissal and expulsion.