Wed Jun 17 00:38:43 1998
Date: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 15:50:06 +0100
From: RNW berita list manager
Subject: Warta Berita - Radio Nederland, 16 June 1998
* CHINESE WOMEN RAPED DURING RIOTS IN JAKARTA
This is a translation of an interview the Indonesian Department of Radio
Netherlands conducted with Ita Nadia, one of the workers at the women
sector within the Voluntary Team which deals with the aftermath of the
recent riots in Jakarta. Ita Nadia is also the Director of Kalyana
Mitra, an all-women NGO. The interview was conducted in the Indonesian
language on June 8, 1998. It was broadcast in Gema Warta and Fokus Awal
Pekan the following day, June 9th.
RN: How many victims have contacted your group so far?
IN: It is extremely difficult to quantify the number of victims who
reported their cases, first of all because they are deeply traumatized
and also because, as women, they face other obstacles, such as being
Chinese and non-Muslim (in a largely Muslim environment). If we wait
until they come to us then it's not going to work. So we use a pro-
active approach. We try to find them. We open a telephone hotline. We
also try and recruit volunteers. At the moment we provide the victims
with medical and psychological help, in order to make them strong enough
so that they can present their case in court. According to our records
(as of June 8) there are between 25 and 50 cases to be dealt with.
We assist the victims intensively. The women of ethnic Chinese origin
tend to be very reluctant to talk, traumatized as they are. We have
visited hospitals and noted that many victims have suffered mental
breakdowns. That means there is nothing we can do for them at present.
The type of victim varies from women who were assaulted in the street to
those who were raped in their own homes. In some instances, women were
raped and then killed. In others, the rape victims and their families
RN: Are there many victims who make use of your telephone hotline?
IN: Hotlines have been opened in two places. One is in the office of
Kalyana Mitra, the other at Mitra Perempuan; both are all-women NGO's.
We receive an average of 25 calls a day, mostly from informants. About
three to five victims a day call our hotlines. Usually they don't want
to identify themselves, most are hysterical and crying. We tend to get
their addresses from informants, relatives or neighbours, not from the
victims themselves. They range in age from ten to fifty. We believe the
abuse to be barbaric, systematic and organized, since most of the
perpetrators were not from the area, but came from elsewhere, in groups.
RN: Are the victims exclusively from the ethnic Chinese community?
IN: The majority, about 98 percent, are ethnic Chinese. We know of one
or two cases involving women from other ethnic groups but these have not
yet been confirmed. All of the victims we have dealt with were Chinese.
RN: How would you build a court case; wouldn't it be almost impossible
to identify individuals as the perpetrators?
IN: Well, it is difficult to pinpoint individual rapists, because the
incidents involved groups of between five and nine men. Our target is
the government, because we think this is the government's
responsibility. The acts were well-planned and carried out as a military
operation. The men would come to a certain place, loot shops en then
rape the women -something which is very common in military situations.
Our targets are not the guilty individuals, since it is difficult to
produce evidence, but we want to raise the awareness and solidarity of
the public. Society itself will have to militate against this kind of
RN: Do you have any idea who committed these acts?
IN: All we know is that they operated in groups of five or more. They
were not local people and the incidents were cases of multiple rape, in
which one woman was usually abused by up to five men. The rapes took
place in the street and in people's homes.
RN: Could you give a rundown of cases that have been documented?
IN: There were employees going home by public transport. On the bus, the
passengers were separated along ethnic lines. The Chinese were told to
get off, take off their clothes and walk. They were herded towards the
bushes lining the road. The good-looking ones were raped, those who were
less pretty were told to march on without any clothes on. In another
incident, a group of Chinese women were stripped naked and harrassed. We
met some women who had bruises all over their bodies, their nipples had
been torn. There was a case where a group of ten people entered a bank
and sealed off the door. Inside, the Chinese women employees were made
to dance without any clothes on. Then there was the poor Chinese family
whose three daughters, aged 10 to 18, were raped by seven men. Yet
another case involves a Chinese family whose eldest daughter told me
what happened to her two younger sisters. They, too, were raped by seven
men, on the third floor of their house. Afterwards, their attackers
chased them down to the second floor, which was already in flames. Both
girls died. There've been other cases where women were not only raped,
but strangled as well. Also, there were cases where, after being raped,
the victims and their families ended up killing themselves. These were
cases where the women were not only raped, but also sodomized and had
their vaginas ripped apart. These assaults were carried out
systematically, not by any single individual.
I would say that there is a political message in all this: if you want
reforms and democracy then this is the price you have to pay. They want
to create a state of terror, in order to intimidate people, so they pick
on ethnic Chinese, on women and non-Muslims because they are the most
vulnerable. We are extremely angry that women are being targeted and
subjected to sexual violence as a means to intimidate people. This is
RN: What would you say to victims who are still afraid to explain what
happened to them?
IN: I would say 'please don't be afraid, because breaking your silence
will help raise awareness'. They can call our hotlines on 021-7902109 or
021-79021121. We guarantee complete confidentiality. To the outside
world I say: please give us your support. Support means campaigning
against this barbarism and condemning it. Ethnic Chinese were already
the target of political discrimination by the government. Now they are
RN: Do you think these cases have received enough attention from the
government and the media?
IN: This is an act of discrimination that has built up for more than 30
years. Rape is a criminal act, but the matter has gone beyond mere
crime. It is a social outrage. We want to show that this is a crime
beyond comprehension. As for the media, we insist that this is also
their responsibility. Right now we are still concentrating on the
victims, standing by them and trying to restore their confidence. This
is a duty that involves not just looking after women but also raising
awareness. I am glad to say that we are getting very positive reactions
from all layers of society, both from indigenous Indonesians and ethnic
Chinese who support our work.
We have been threatened ourselves, they've even sent us grenades. One
grenade came with a message attached: 'there will be more grenades to
come'. But I say: we're doing this not to gain political power, we're
doing this for the victims, for those who have died. Our motivation
comes from the heart. When I came to this I was deeply shocked and
couldn't believe what I heard and saw. Our group, Kalyana Mitra, has
been dealing with rape cases for ten years but we've never encountered
anything quite as barbaric as this. The victims ask for protection
because they fear reprisals if the details of their cases are revealed.
We are now helping the victims to take HIV tests. If they've become
pregnant they will need an abortion. They will also need psychological
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