Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ladies: Stop getting yourselves raped

Cultural relativism is nice and all, but some things are just plain stupid. In response to a series of rapes and attempted sexual assaults on public transportation in Jakarta, Indonesia's women's empowerment minister has ... wait for it ... asked the ladies to take up martial arts!
Women need to learn martial arts to protect themselves against violent acts, according to Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Linda Amalia Sari Gumelar.

“The mastery of martial arts is necessary for women to escape dangerous situations,” she said in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Citing the recent rape and robbery attempts inside public transit, and numerous sexual assaults on Jakarta’s Angkot minibuses, Linda said women were often the target of violent attacks.

“Many female workers using public transport to return home late at night become victims of assault,” she explained. “Women are often seen as weak, so they become sitting ducks for criminals. Therefore, women must master martial arts in order to protect themselves.”
To paraphrase Zapp Brannigan: Madame Minister, what the hell? This is outrageous, and in a right-thinking country a government minister spouting this kind of bullshit would be looking for a job by sundown. This is the person in charge of overseeing the well-being of Indonesia's women and children?

Why place the extra burden on the women? It puts the onus on women not to get themselves raped, rather than on men not to do the raping; in short, it blames the victim. Such victim-shaming is a problem all over, and Indonesia is no exception. Look no further than the Big Durian, where Governor Fauzi Bowo helpfully suggested that women were being raped because they wore revealing clothes.
After a series of attacks on women by public transportation drivers, including the pack rape of a woman on her way home from work, Fauzi said miniskirts were inviting to rapists.

“You can imagine, if [a woman] wears a short skirt and sits next to the driver, it could be seen as inviting,” the governor said. “Wear sensible clothes, not ‘inviting’ clothes.”

He also had a similar message for women who take motorcycle taxis, or ojeks.

“If you ride on an ojek wearing short pants or a miniskirt, do not sit like a man,” Fauzi said. “If you sit sidesaddle, there will be no problem.”
(Incidentally, Fuzzy Bowwow is about nine points back in his re-election bid despite he and his campaign fomenting religious and ethnic hatred by telling Jakarta voters that they must vote for fellow Muslims or incur Allah's wrath. It's just a coincidence, I assume, that his opponent's running mate is a Christian and ethnically Chinese.)

How can people in positions of power continue to be so anti-woman and treat rape and sexual assault so blithely while still keeping their jobs? It's no wonder there's such a culture of impunity in this country when victims of crime are held equally culpable — if not more so — than the people who actually break the law.

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