Victim’s Consent as The Problematic Part of Permendikbud Narration
Permendikbud no. 30 should be revised in order to adjust the religious norm in Indonesia.
Following many sexual assault cases in campus environment, Permendikbudristek 2021 had been released by Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology on August 31. Among all chapters, Permendikbud number 30 became the most controversial. Take one example, Permendikbud number 30 chapter 5 paragraph 2 alphabet L which read:
“menyentuh, mengusap, meraba, memegang, memeluk, mencium, dan/atau menggosokkan bagian tubuhnya pada tubuh korban tanpa persetujuan korban”(touching, rubbing, fingering, holding, hugging, kissing and/or rubbing body parts on the victim’s body without the victim’s consent).
Regardless of this chapter’s aim which is to prevent the continuation of sexual assault, the phrase “with the victim’s consent” needs to be reexamined. Rows of community organizations that have already rejected and proposed revisions to this regulation are Muhammadiyah, Ikatan Dai Indonesia (Ikadi), Wanita PUI, Persatuan Umat Islam (PUI), Dewan Dakwah Islam Indonesia (DDII), Syarikat islam (SI), Mathla’ul Anwar, Al Ittihadiyah, Al Washliyah, Persatuan Islam (PERSIS), Wahdah Islamiyah, Al Irsyad Al Islamiyah, Hidayatullah, Badan Kerjasama Pondok Pesantren Indonesia (BKsPPI), and Persatuan Tarbiyah Islamiyah (PERTI). Besides, this problematic term considered taken from paradigm of sexual consent which unfortunately far from the religious norms upheld in Indonesia.
Although many parties propose revisions for the common good, the prejudice over these parties are quite overwhelming and unreasonable.
The exclamation of “these parties don’t understand how urgent this constitution is”, “these parties are protecting the rapist”, and many other harsh claims scattered on social media especially Twitter and Instagram, whereas big and old organization like Muhammadiyah that has been provided facilities for society for 111 years cannot possibly carry out vile consideration that are bad for nation.
Unlike the prejudice and accusation to those who are demand for the revised version of permendikbud that “they disagree to term victim’s consent because they want to protect the rapist”, victim’s consent is indeed not suitable to used as the basis for allegation of sexual harassment in Indonesia. Since long ago, Indonesia has been a civilized country whose social norms are based on Pancasila as our national principle, culture, religion, and noble character. Indonesians tend to respect the elders and love the younger ones because the religion and culture upholds that, therefore they do not take rashly the paradigm of “respect is earned, not given” because some exceptions are indeed applied. The theory goes in the same way with this permendikbud number 30 case. The effective solution to make this constitution in accordance with our national spirit, especially religious norms, is erasing the term “victim’s consent”. This is once again to dodge the accusation that the revised version asked has no clear parameters, because without the victim’s consent every kind of unnecessary touch means crime. In addition, the main reason of why permendikbud need to be revise is because if consent became the only parameter of whether a sexual act judged as right or wrong, then Indonesians religious value will get humiliated.
Religion, especially Islam which adopted by the majority has been part of unwritten social rules since its entry to Indonesia, blend with tradition and social values. Indonesians tend to dress by covering majority parts of their body both in casual and formal situations because it is considered polite and civilized. The door house needs to be open if a guest and a householder only accompany each other, so that the neighborhood could also be aware if something bad happens and for the woman to feel safer. Honoring neighbors and guests is also part of this assimilation of culture, religion, and tradition. A woman and a man gather alone in a solitude place still considered as inappropriate even though this starts to fade. Obviously, having sex before married is a forbidden thing that violate both religious and norms of decency. The existence of victim’s consent made it seems like there’s no problem of doing those sexual acts if both parties give consent. The continuation of these worries is that the pemendikbud does not forbid the same-sex sexual acts, so if the universiy citizens feel terrified and uncomfort, there is nowhere to reports. Obviously, this fearness is reasonable and once again humiliating religious and norm of decency at the same time.
The statement should not be inverted as if Indonesia is not safe for all kinds of human beings whereas Indonesia applies some norms and rules that should be respected for whatever reason. All parties agreed that Indonesia needs some rules in order to prevent sexual crimes, therefore the rules itself should be solid, full of certainty, and guarantee the common good without humiliating religious norms.
Another argument about this case is Islam is not the only religion in Indonesia even though it is held by the majority, therefore the rules cannot be always based on and oriented with Islam.
Two things to highlight here are that nobody wants to start a new problem with religious sentiment and that Indonesia is indeed not an Islamic country, but neither a secular one that uses liberalism as the main source of its law.
For a community organization as big and as influential as Muhammadiyah took contrary side in responding certain issue is basically enough to represent 22,46 millions muslim based on 2010 census population data. This number is not simply a number, but represents many people whose voices need to be listened to. Besides, a statement that reads “sexual consent paradigm is from western countries with liberal worldview, therefore it can’t applied in eastern countries since they held many norms that are much more complex” is not merelya a baseless accusation. According to Lori Chamberlain (1991), “The project of theorizing consent is conterminous with a critique of the liberal paradigm that gives it its current shape”. From that statement, we can conclude that consent indeed came from liberalism and is contrary to our first national principle and religious norms.
To respond the objection comments about “Indonesia is not always about Islam”, there are some proofs that consent is neither the right solution. First thing first, ways of giving consent are absolutely confusing because apparently each gender has its own definition. According to Kristen N. Jozkowski (2014), there are remarkable dissimilarities in the way of specifying consent between men and women. Women tend to refer to consent as verbal strategies, while men are the opposite. If something bad happened, one of two parties might not be able to accuse their partner because one thought that what they did was consensual and the other one did not agree. Further problems can be reflected from America as the country that uses consent as their law of doing sexual acts. According to Republika, 21 millions of American women bought abortion pills online only in six months. Humanity became weird because it no longer consider abortion as a human murderer, but a sign of women freedom. Nobody wants this kind of irony to happen in Indonesia. This is no longer about which religion dominates the country. Instead, this is about the most effective way of reconstructing a law in order to get rid of sexual crimes.
Indonesia is an independent country with its own rules and norms, hence Indonesians have their own way to find a solution for each problem include sexual crimes. Looking through history, Indonesians had learned many things from other countries, especially in politics and laws, yet still adjusting to the national principle. Some countries use consensual for the parameter of sexual acts, but Indonesia could begin another kind of law where it focus on prevention because for whatever reason, sexual acts are not basic needs which torture humans if its not fulfilled. Reflecting from this phenomena, Indonesia should be able to listen to its citizens and negotiate every single constitution in a fair and justice-oriented way. From the very beginning, religion is not something that can be separated from state affairs in Indonesia. The only way to reach a consensus is to listen to all parties and decide it wisely.
In conclusion, permendikbud number 30 need some revisions in order to adjust religion norms, reach a consensus, and provide a law which not only overcome the current problems, but also prevent any other sexual crimes that possibly happen in the future. As the rules that apply in a university environment, permendikbud needs to reflect Indonesians true identity and adjust it properly. The citizens also need to stop throwing prejudice and accusations over each other only to win arguments because by the end of the day these rules are for common interest.
Kristen N. Jozkowski, Zoë D. Peterson, Stephanie A. Sanders, Barbara Dennis & Michael Reece (2014). Gender Differences in Heterosexual College Students’ Conceptualizations and Indicators of Sexual Consent: Implications for Contemporary Sexual Assault Prevention Education. The Journal of Sex Research, 904–916
Lori Chamberlain (1991). Consent after Liberalism? A Review Essay of Catherine MacKinnon’s Toward a Feminist Theory of the State and Carole Pateman’s The Sexual Contract. Genders Number 11, Fall 1991. University of Texas Press.