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Covid-19 spurs online sex abuse against Indonesian women

Sexual abuse on the internet has shot up during the pandemic, says rights group

Covid-19 spurs online sex abuse against Indonesian women

An Indonesian women's rights group has reported a sharp increase in online sexual abuse of women during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo: Unsplash) 

Online sexual abuse against women has shot up during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a leading Indonesian women’s rights group.

At least 659 cases were recorded from March to October this year, up from 281 cases last year, the National Commission on Violence against Women said in its annual report released to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Nov. 25.

“It’s been an alarming increase during this Covid-19 pandemic and needs special attention and serious handling,” the commission said in the report.

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Much of it was committed by men posting photos or videos of themselves having sex with their former wives or girlfriends on the internet. 

The commission’s report said the coronavirus had spurred domestic violence against women, leading to many divorces. Bitter husbands then manipulated photos to look like porn and put them on social media, resulting in women being accused of violating anti-pornography and computer crime laws.

“Their rights must be protected and justice for them must be restored,” the commission said, adding that it should be the perpetrators who exploit them who are punished.

As part of a 16-day campaign running from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, the rights group will try to pressure legislators into passing an anti-sexual violence bill.

The campaign will be held in 25 provinces, 38 cities and 13 districts across Indonesia. It involves 167 civil society organizations and will include seminars, rallies, radio and TV talk shows and cultural festivals. The campaign will be extended to cover social media. 

Yuli Nugrahani, from the Indonesian bishops’ women and gender secretariat, said she was concerned about the number of harassment cases on the internet.

“Covid-19 has forced people to stay at home and sadly women have had to bear the brunt of abuses, both physically and online,” she said.

She said the Catholic Church is aware of this and that several dioceses and Catholic organizations have agreed to participate in the anti-sexual violence campaign. 

“All of society must unite in this fight against such abuses,” she said.

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