JAKARTA – A joke about rape victims by a senior Indonesian judge is sparking outrage in the Muslim-majority country.
"The comments were inelegant, inappropriate and unbecoming of a judge and a Supreme Court hopeful," Sarifuddin Suding, a politician, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Wednesday, January 16.
Judge Daming Sanusi, a candidate for the Indonesian Supreme Court, has sparked uproar earlier this week by suggesting that rape victims enjoy being violated.
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“Consideration needs to be taken thoroughly for the imposition of death penalty for a rapist because in a rape case both the rapist and the victim enjoy it,” Daming said in response to a question about whether the death penalty should be applied in rape cases.
But the remarks sparked fury in the Muslim country.
“He [Daming] doesn’t have the right to make decisions that can affect the lives of others,” Muhammad Ihsan, member of the National Commission on Child Protection (KPAI), told a House hearing.
“More people will suffer from injustice if we have a judge like that,” he was quoted as saying by The Jakarta Post.
Seeking to end the uproar, the judge apologized for his offensive remarks.
"I made the remark without realizing it can harm people's feeling," Daming told a news conference cited by Antara news agency.
He argued that he was nervous in front of the lawmakers and made the comment as a joke.
"I said something that no man should ever say, especially a Supreme Court candidate,” he said.
"I have three adolescent daughters and one of them told me that she is very embarrassed and that she felt as if she did not know me at all.”
The remarks come amid world uproar following the gang-rape of an Indian girl last month. The girl later died of injuries sustained in the assault.
The death penalty is applied for murder, terrorism and drug trafficking in Indonesia, but not rape.
Activists say rape cases are often not taken serious by the Indonesian authorities or fail to reach a conviction.
But many Indonesians rejected the judge’s apology, calling for his ouster.
"The damage has been done," Primastuti Handayani, the managing editor of the Jakarta Post, wrote in a commentary published Wednesday.
"Nothing he said in his apology can heal the wound he caused."
Indonesian politicians have called for rejecting Daming’s application to the Supreme Court.
"We believe that he should not have said that,” Democratic Party legislator Marzuki Alie told BBC Indonesian.
“As a judge who makes decisions on behalf of God, he should not joke about law especially not when he was undergoing a fit-and-proper test to be a supreme justice.”
The opposition Democratic Indonesian Party (PDIP) also called for his dismissal.
"If he does not have any sympathy or empathy, how will he do his job in the future?" spokesman Ismayatum said.
Arist Merdeka Sirait, the chairman of the Indonesian Commission for Child Protection, described the comments as "insolent"
"It is disturbing that a judge, whose role is to protect the legal rights of women and children, could say something so audacious and consider it as a joke. He should be sacked.”
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim state with Muslims making up around 85 percent of its 237-million population.Christians, both Protestants and Catholics, make up nearly 12 percent of the country’s population.
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