Indonesia Pardons Nuril Maknun, jailed for reporting sexual harassment

In news that slipped by us last week, Indonesia's parliament unanimously voted last Wednesday to pardon Nuril Maknun, who was found guilty of and jailed for six months for "distributing obscene material," after she reported her boss for sexual harassment.

Maknun is a 41 year old part-time bookkeeper at a high school on the island of Lombok, Indonesia. Her boss, the school's principal, was using explicit language and consistently asking her to have an affair, while also describing in explicit detail another affair he was having in 2018. Nuril recorded her boss's sexual harrassment, and shared it as evidence to others in an attempt to quash a rumour that Nuril and her boss were having an affair.

Since then, she has been embroiled in a legal battle with numerous trials and appeals, with Indonesia's Supreme Court dismissing her final appeal and upholding a six-month jail sentence and a $US35,000 fine.

Women's rights activists in Indonesia and around the world had expressed dismay at the sentence, and Indonesia's President, Joko Widodo, expressed concern about the case in late 2018 and just a few weeks ago. "Since the beginning, my attention to this case has never diminished… If it gets to me, then it will be under my authority, and I will use the authority I have."

On July 15, President Widodo sent an amnesty letter to the nation's House of Representatives, advocating amnesty for Nuril. Last Wednesday (24th July) the House voted unanimously to approve amnesty for her.

After receiving amnesty, Nuril addressed Indonesia's parliament, saying "Don’t let anyone else have an experience like mine… It hurt so much, I hope there won’t be any more victims, and women should dare to speak up."

Amnesty International Indonesia has pointed to gaps in the nation's Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law, according to Global Citizen. In a statement by Usman Hamid, Amnesty International Indonesia's executive director, he said “Nuril’s case showed the harm and the absurdity contained in the ITE Law. This is the right time to revise it radically, particularly the provisions on defamation and blasphemy. Nuril’s amnesty could become a victory for women – as well as for freedom of expression.”

Sexual violence, harassment and effective inequality before the law has been the focus of global attention since the #MeToo movement started in 2017. In Indonesia, #MeToo has started to gain traction, but cases like Nuril's highlight the need for progress on gender equality and women's rights in the nation.


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