Women Safety in Public Places Calls for Immediate Attention

With the rapid expanse of urbanization, threats of crime and violence against groups of woman has been a major concern on cities around the world, including Jakarta.

Walking home from school, going to work, using public transport, go out to buy some groceries or even just enjoying their own neighborhoods, women and girls are the target of various sexual threat, from smallest sexual harassment to rape.

Like any other cities, In Jakarta women must live with the reality that their daily life are much limited than men, walking around alone in a quiet place may expose themselves to a threat of sexual abuse.

Earlier on November, another woman became a victim of sexual assault in public place when 23-year-old civil servant candidate identified as R, was robbed and raped on a pedestrian bridge in Lebak Bulus on 4.30 p.m when she was going home from her office in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta.

Six days later, the alleged suspect has been shot to death by the Jakarta Police officer for trying to attack the officer with a machete.

The incident adds to a long list of rape in public place in the capital including in June when a driver of public minivan raped a female passenger in his vehicle on East Cilandak, South Jakarta, and a last year’s sexual assault in a Transjakarta shelter by then four officers of Transjakarta.

Overpassing Jakarta Outer Ring Toll Road, the Lebak Bulus Footbridge is not the pedestrians’ first choice to cross the toll road as a zebra cross is located less than five hundred meters away.

“The bridge is very quiet during the day and night. I’d rather take the zebra cross as there are more people there,” Diane, whose workplace is located near the bridge, told the Riki and Fernandes (“R&F’).

When one of our best media handling partner, Indra Budiari visited the scene, there is no one took the bridge for over than one hour. Stretching for 250 meters between one sides to another, the bridge is an “ideal” crime scene as any sounds or screams will be buried by cars engine’s noise under the bridge.

In the wake of the incident, Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama has admitted that the capital had yet to be a safe place for its citizens, stressed that the city administration would conduct measures to provide the safety including install CCTV cameras in various location across the capital.

Ahok also took the opportunity to remind Jakartans to participate in Qlue, the city administration’s mobile app, saying that the citizens can report any crime-prone area so that the local community chiefs can take action.

Meanwhile, South Jakarta Industry and Energy Agency head Hasmi Chalid said his agency have replace the footbridge lamps to illuminate the area as the previous ones have been stolen. Several trees that grow around the bridge’s stairs have also been cut to clear the view.

“There are five lamps here and we replace them regularly, however people always cut the core and steal the lamps,” Hasmi said.

However, Uli Pangaribuan from The Women’s Legal Aid (LBH Apik) said such reactive solution would not end the root of the cause, emphasized that the administration would eventually forget the incident and return to its business-as-usual treatment.

Uli, who accompanied the victim of sexual assault in Transjakarta shelter during the court process, said it was not the first time for the city administration to take reactive action instead of thinking the effective crime prevention towards women.

“For example, the city administration and local police tend to raid public minivans after rape incident in the public transportation. That is not the right solution,” she continued

Uli went on to say that in many cases, sexual assault victims were blamed for the incident. In this country, there is still a stigma attached to rape victims that resulted many victims are unwilling to report the incident for fear of the shame it would bring to them and their families.

There is still huge stigma attached to rape in India. As a result many rape victims are unwilling to say they’ve been attacked for fear of the shame it would bring them and their families.

“Go out in the night, using a revealing cloth and there are still many statements that put the victim in a guilty side,” she said to R&F clearly.

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