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Girls & Women

Indonesia Pardons Woman Jailed for Reporting Her Boss' Sexual Harassment

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Why Global Citizens Should Care
The #MeToo movement has gained slow traction in Indonesia, but cases like Nuril Maknun’s highlight the urgent need for progress and the protection of women’s rights. You can take action here to #LeveltheLaw and help empower women and girls around the world. 

Indonesia's parliament unanimously voted on Wednesday to pardon Nuril Maknun, who was found guilty of distributing “indecent materials” after recording her boss’ sexual harassment and showing the evidence to others in the hopes of proving her innocence. The vote followed a letter from President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on July 15, which advocated for amnesty for Nuril.

Nuril was working as a bookkeeper at Senior High School Seven in Lombok, when the principal, Muslim – who goes by one name only, like many in Indonesia — began repeatedly calling her to describe his alleged affair with another coworker, according to Agence France-Presse. Muslim also attempted to pressure Nuril into having an affair with him, the Washington Post reported.

Tired of the calls and rising rumors that she and the principal were having an affair, Nuril recorded the calls. She later shared these recordings with her husband and a teacher at the school in an attempt to dispel the rumor, which ultimately led her to be charged with violating anti-pornography laws and receiving a six-month prison sentence and a $35,000 (500 million Rupiah) fine in November 2018.

But now, after fighting for years to clear her name and regain her freedom, Nuril has been pardoned.

“Don’t let anyone else have an experience like mine," she said, addressing parliament after the vote. "It hurt so much, I hope there won’t be any more victims, and women should dare to speak up."

Nuril was jailed for a month during the initial investigation into the charges against her and was originally acquitted, according to the Washington Post. But the decision was later overruled.

Determined to fight the verdict, Nuril and her lawyer then brought the case before the Supreme Court, which ruled on July 4 that Nuril had violated the country’s strict anti-pornography laws by sharing the recordings and upheld the previous verdict. Following the ruling, President Jokowi, who had previously expressed concern over the case, urged Nuril to seek clemency from his office.

Though Nuril has now been pardoned her case highlights gaps in Indonesia's laws protecting survivors of sexual harassment and assault, as well as its Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law, Amnesty International Indonesia said in an emailed statement.

Read More: Indonesia's Supreme Court Sentences Woman Who Reported Sexual Harassment to Prison

“Nuril’s case showed the harm and the absurdity contained in the ITE Law. This is the right time to revise it radically, particularly the provisions on defamation and blasphemy. Nuril’s amnesty could become a victory for women – as well as for freedom of expression,” said Usman Hamid, Amnesty International Indonesia’s executive director.

“Nuril and her family have suffered enough. The president should also ensure that she and her family receive reparations for the gross injustice they have suffered. It is the minimum this government can do to honour a brave woman, whom some were desperate to make a victim – but has become a hero,” he added.

Several other victims of sexual harassment have spoken out in Indonesia in recent years, and have been punished for doing so, Al Jazeera reported, and such cases may deter other victims from coming forward for fear of similar consequences. However, Nuril's pardoning could give hope to others who want to seek justice.