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Beranda NEWS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW The Church Should Stand With Survivors of Sexual Violence

The Church Should Stand With Survivors of Sexual Violence

Sexual violence in the parish of Santo Herkulanus, Depok, West Java, has opened the dark veil surrounding the church. The Indonesian Bishops' Conference of Indonesian Bishops (KWI) is currently tracking the survivors, most of whom are minors, the Indonesian Council for Advanced Imam Cooperation (BKBLII). They daily work in the church environment. Until now, there is no complete data regarding the exact number of victims of sexual violence in churches throughout Indonesia.

BKBLII member, Father Fransiskus Iwan Yamrewav, believes that the case that has surfaced recently is only the surface of the iceberg. This is because the church often resolves cases of sexual violence committed by religious leaders in kinship and customary law. The perpetrators were only given sanctions in the form of moving places of duty or fines without having to undergo legal proceedings. Related to this, interviewed Father Iwan on Saturday, July 11, 2020. The following is the excerpt

You are assigned to be a member of the Legal Division of the Indonesian Imam's Advanced Cooperation Agency (BKBLII). What has BKBLII done in the context of sexual violence?

Since several years ago we have formed a protocol team because of the reflection from Pope Francis regarding the matter sexual abuse. Finally, a clear protocol was formulated for Indonesia. This does not only come from the Catholic church but collaborates with positive laws in Indonesia such as using the Criminal Code, the Child Protection Law, the ITE Law and the Domestic Violence Law. So this becomes one module.

We also conduct socialization through workshop. We held three times workshop by inviting bishops in Indonesia. We've also created a protocol safe guardian for children. The interest of the church, in this case the diocese, is quite positive because it sends its delegates. Including those who have power make policy in their respective territories.

How do you view sexual violence in church circles?

The incident that took place at the Herkulanus Church in Depok, West Java, became a scene because of the large number of survivors. Some say 20, some say 31 people. Most of the survivors were minors. This is fatal because it involves children. The facts that were revealed could be only the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Meanwhile, if you want to collect how many cases of sexual violence? I believe there are a lot more. It's just that the culture in Indonesia considers things like this a disgrace if they are told to others. Then, the cult of the individual was still strong enough that survivors and families were embarrassed, afraid, and reluctant to tell about it. Moreover, it was conveyed to the authorities.

The facts that were revealed could be only the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Meanwhile, if you want to collect how many cases of sexual violence? I believe there are a lot more.

Instead of completing it, church leaders often take steps to remove perpetrators of sexual violence. Do you think that's right?

The transfer is customary law. You can also make a fine, but that's just a violation. If within the perpetrator there is a tendency to commit this again (sexual violence-ed), being moved anywhere will have the same result. If you want to be transferred to A or B if you don't take care of the perpetrator, it will definitely happen again. If the perpetrator of sexual violence is wrong, he must be punished by law in accordance with the applicable law in Indonesia.

So moving actors won't solve the problem?

Can not.

To your knowledge, how many victims or survivors of sexual violence are there?

We don't have exact data yet. Everything people say. We can't use it validly. One of our dreams is there (collecting data on survivors-ed). We want to collect valid data about cases that occur so that we can talk based on data. We want to have accurate and updated data. When they are collected, we imagine that they can be used to prevent repeated actions and provide assistance to survivors.

If there are so many cases, why don't the survivors dare to speak out?

The Indonesian context is different from that in Boston in the early 2000s. There the people at first did not dare to speak out. However, when there is a container that accommodates their voices, they (survivors-ed) then sound. In Indonesia, survivors face various challenges. Among other things, the survivor feels embarrassed and the family keeps silent. Second, we are dealing with church clergy. Third, the cult of the individual. Then there is still an assumption that if you open the name of the church it will be bad. That view is the main challenge.

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Isn't it because the church is hiding the case?

The language used by the general public is hiding. However, after I understand, it's not hiding. More precisely to settle in a family manner. I personally have the view that it cannot be hidden. If it is legally wrong, then it will be processed legally. If it's wrong, that's wrong. If not, yes no. It's before the law it reads. He wants the Pastor or the congregation if he violates the law must be processed by the applicable law.

He wants the Pastor or the congregation if he violates the law must be processed by the applicable law.

In this case the church wants the survivors to have a voice?

I hope so. The main principle is always love. It contains elements of justice and human dignity, so that one form of justice and fighting for their dignity is by listening to the voices of survivors and voicing their voices. As the bishop of Timor Leste said with the expression Voice of the Voiceless. The church should be a mouthpiece for those who cannot speak. We want that direction, even if it hurts a lot.

The church should be a mouthpiece for those who cannot speak. We want that direction, even if it hurts a lot.

You mean painful?

It's bound to rock. If the context is the Indonesian Catholic church, this will shake the structure. But our supreme leader, Pope Francis, has emphasized that there is zero tolerance for sexual crimes for children and vulnerable adults.

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How are the efforts of the church to prevent the incident from happening again?

Within the Indonesian Catholic Church, we have a protocol name safe guardian for children. We want to create a church environment in the sense that all activities and activities related to the church must observe protocol and provide a safe space for children and youth. This has already been distributed to the diocese. It remains how this protocol is implemented in the regions.

For the survivors, what is the attitude taken by the church?

Regardless of who the perpetrator is, in principle, the approach taken must be on the side of the survivor. This is the main guide. When this approach is not owned in handling cases, a case of sexual violence will never be open and resolved. We cannot ignore the survivors or ignore them, let alone be wrapped up with holy reasons. The church is obliged to accompany it to completion.

Done like what?

If you get to court, you have to go through legally, and that's not yet done for survivors. The effect is lifelong. Not only as a survivor but also his family. It's not like it or not, like it or not, you can't. It's about justice and human dignity. Their lives were ruined, especially since they were young. Survivors who experience this have to endure a lifetime of suffering, their lives are dark, as long as the perpetrator walks freely.

Why would the perpetrator dare to commit crimes against church children?

It could be that the perpetrator was a victim who did not receive adequate treatment. As a result, old wounds that arise encourage him to do it again (sexual violence-ed). But it's not always that the perpetrator was the victim.

Does the church leadership seem unfazed?

Maybe there is no access or no channel. I think quite a few are willing to speak up. Even if it is not open, usually ask for anonymity. I think many church officials have been asked for information about sexual violence.

Have church leaders ever publicly reported cases of sexual violence?

I think there is, but again report it to whom we don't know.

In the future, what will BKBLII do?

In my opinion, collaboration with fellow journalists who have data is very urgent so that this struggle becomes a common struggle. Hopefully, there is a common awareness that wherever crime occurs, it must be resisted. Whether in the context of the church or the wider community or other institutions, if there is a crime there that injures justice and degrades human dignity, it must be resisted.  (Abdus Somad)

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