IN the face of rising violence against female students, an Indonesian state commission has called for changes in the national school curriculum to promote gender equality and women’s rights.
The move for change comes after a report from National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) found that female students are particularly vulnerable to sexual assaults and other forms of violence.
Female students made up 24 percent of all victims in 2016, a 3 percent rise from the previous year, with as much as 46 percent of the total reported cases of gender-based violence against female students occurring in community settings. Nineteen percent occurred in a domestic environment, the report found, as highlighted by the Jakarta Globe.
The report also found that housewives were another especially vulnerable demographic with them making up 60 percent of all victims of violence against women in 2016.
“Women are more vulnerable to domestic abuse because of the power struggle between the two genders,” Komnas Perempuan commissioner Indraswari said during the launch of the report in Jakarta.
“Housewives are even more vulnerable because of an economic dependency on their spouses.”
The most common form of harassment reported in 2016 was physical abuse, followed by sexual abuse, emotional abuse and economic abuse.
Rape and sexual assault were the most common types of sexual abuse, with nearly 2,600 reported cases last year.
Indraswari believes that the lack of gender quality education in public schools in the country is in part to blame for the rise in attacks against women.
“This is why we conduct equality programs, especially gender-based programs, in schools throughout Jakarta. We have pushed this agenda all the way to the Ministry of Education,” Indraswari said.
“This initiative will help influence our youth to be aware of gender issues and hopefully curb violence against women.”
The Director General of Early Childhood Education and Community Education, Haris Iskandar, agrees with her, expressing his concern for the troubling levels of gender inequality compared to other ASEAN nations and urging grass-root measures to combat the problem.
“Gender equality is still imbalanced in Indonesia. Compared to other countries, we are still far away,” he said during an event Ministry of Education and Culture on Wednesday.
“If you want to change the access of women to various sectors such as politics and economy, then change the education,” he added.
Indonesia was ranked 110 in the world in terms of gender inequality, according to the UNDP Gender Inequality Index, which leaves them lagging behind their ASEAN neighbours Malaysia (62), Thailand (93) and Singapore (11).
Komnas Perempuan commissioner Mariana Amiruddin hopes the government will also expand their push for gender equality beyond the classroom.
“Misogynistic behaviour can come from anywhere. The government should utilise empty billboards to popularise the mind-set that masculinity does not mean degrading women,” she said.