A man in Jakarta, Indonesia, accused of sexually harassing a young woman on a TransJakarta bus was let go of by the police after they stated that whatever he did was “just for fun.”
The unnamed man was taken into custody by the Jatinegara Police when a woman identified as IK accused him of caressing her on the thigh, while sitting beside her on the bus. Despite the fact that the harasser admitted to his inappropriate actions and even admitted harassing numerous women on the bus, police officers said his act did not qualify as “sexual harassment.”
“So, it actually does not qualify as [sexual harassment], the person just touched her as they were sitting side by side. The woman was holding her bag, as was the perpetrator. And then he happened to touch her thigh. Also, she was wearing long pants and he happened to touch her thigh since they were sitting next to each other,” Bambang Edi, head of criminal investigations for the Jatinegara Police, said.
The officer further added that the incident would have been considered sexual harassment if the woman had been wearing a miniskirt.
“If he had grabbed her breasts or genitals or if he had shown his genitalia then that would be harassment. That’s not what happened. He just touched her thigh and she was wearing trousers. Unless she’s wearing a skirt, and he opened her thighs and grabbed her, that would be harassment,” he further added in a ridiculous statement.
What is even more outrageous is that Bambang said the man’s obscene actions were “just for fun.”
It is absolutely disgusting that the police treat perpetrators, who randomly grope woman in public spaces, so lightly. Such an attitude toward these desperate, creepy men will only give rise to similar incidents and make sexual predators think it's OK to touch women wherever and whenever they like.
The cringe-worthy incident comes just two days after a Women’s March took place in Jakarta on March 4, which was aimed at addressing eight issues, included tolerance, diversity, health rights for women and violence against women, among others.
Cases of sexual assault and rape are still extremely common in Indonesia, where most incidents go unreported, and in other cases, the harasser remains unpunished. Last year, the brutal rape of a 14-year-old girl in Indonesia sparked protests, after her body was found dumped at a rubber plantation. Fourteen men, including seven minors, were arrested in the case, but whether they were punished in proportion to the severity of their crime remains unknown.