Indonesian woman seeks Widodo's help in sex-pest boss case

Teacher faces jail after reporting sexual harassment from former school head
Indonesian woman seeks Widodo's help in sex-pest boss case

Indonesia's Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Baiq Nuril Maknun for it to overturn a prison sentence against her for reporting alleged sexual harassment by her former employer in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara province. (Photo supplied)

A schoolteacher is seeking a pardon from Indonesian President Joko Widodo after the Supreme Court rejected an appeal to overturn a six-month prison sentence for accusing her employer of sexual harassment.

The court on July 5 also upheld a 500 million rupiah (US$35,400) fine it originally handed down in November against Baiq Nuril Maknun.

That ruling had overturned a verdict from a lower court which had previously found her not guilty.

The Supreme Court said Maknun was found guilty of violating a computer crime law by uploading indecent content onto the internet.

Back in 2012 she recorded telephone conversations in which the head teacher of a school where she had previously worked in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara province, had made lewd and abusive remarks.

These recordings were sent to local education officials and went viral on social media, resulting in the head teacher being fired. He then laid a police complaint against Maknun for distributing the recordings.

She says that a friend took the recordings off her phone and distributed them.

Joko Jumadi, her lawyer, said the only course of action now to prevent her from going to jail would be to seek a pardon from Widodo.

Widodo said he had been monitoring the case and recommended that Maknun apply for the pardon immediately.

The case has outraged activists who said the court ruling sends the wrong message to women who fall victim to sexual harassment. Even if the president grants a pardon, the court ruling still suggests she is guilty, they say.

Haeril Halim from Amnesty International Indonesia said the court decision was shocking but the president had the chance to rectify a gross injustice.

"This is important as this offers support to other victims of sexual abuse who fear being branded as criminals,” he said.

Sister Maria Yosephina Pahlawati of the Congregation of Servants of the Holy Spirit, who runs a shelter for female victims of violence in Flores, said the case showed a lack of commitment by the judicial system in guaranteeing women's rights and offering protection.

"Recording the abusive phone calls was her gathering evidence to prove she was being subjected to indecent treatment,” Pahlawati said. “Why then is she being punished for that?”

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