Discussion / Event

Published: 11/02/2011

Porn video of Ariel Peterpan becomes popular in the media. How do feminist and the participant of the discussion response to this? In this Kamisan (Thursday) Discussion, the theme were sexuality and privacy rights through Ariel Peterpan study case. The discussion was held on February 10, 2011 in Jakarta. The speaker were Nursyahbani Katjasungkana (Founder of the Indonesian Women’s Association for Justice and Member of Republic of Indonesia’s House of Representatives 2004-2009 Commission on Legal Affairs and Law, Human Rights and Security, Faction of National Awakening), and Myra Diarsi from WRI as the moderator. 


Sexuality and Human Rights
Sexuality is an important aspect of human for their entire life, which include sex, gender identity and role, sexual orientation, erotism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is also an experience which is expressed in mind, fantacies, desires, trusts, attitudes, values, habits, pratices, roles and relations. However, not all of those dimensions are occured and can be expressed by WHO (2004).

Sexuality as part of privacy rights is a human rights which is recognized in Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, and has law protection through national Laws number 39/1999 about Human Rights. However, in other laws, such as in Criminal Law Act (KUHP), marriage law and health law, sexuality is still a grey area and does not recognise as what it is.


1. Sexuality is an important aspect of human life throughout life and includes sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction.

2. Women’s sexuality is determined by the power and political and economic interests of the dominant group of mainstream patriarchy, which are constructed and constantly reproduced through social institutions such as religion, culture, education institutions and practiced through the legal products of state policy.


3. Patriarchal domination castrates woman’s right to determine the sovereignty of her sexuality. This is related to the existence of unequal power relations, which favor the dominance of male sexuality than female sexuality. As a result, men are given ‘privilege’ to determine both their own sexuality and female sexuality.


4. Unequal relations have an impact on the rooted concept of binary opposition of sexual identity in the community (male versus female). As a result, the binary opposition builds the segregation of two sexual identities recognized by the state and religion (as a male or a female).


5. Privacy rights is in fact the entire ownership of one’s body and mind of a sovereign and autonomous management to maintain on the condition that it is not harmful and violate the rights of others. However, this is not recognized by patriarchal-dominated mainstream. Therefore, a series of discrimination and violence by the dominant patriarchal groups against women’s groups and / other minority groups occurred. One of the most visible events is the recent attack against Ahmadiyya and its followers.


6. Legal products such as the Criminal Code, Marriage Law, and Demographic Administration Law contain a formula that is not entirely gender neutral, but in fact gender blind. Due to negating the unequal power relation between men’s domination of masculinity and femininity of women in social reality, which eventually become neglectful and discriminatory against women’s position and sovereignty.

Presentation summary:

1. Sexuality is a result of biological and gender social that produces a particular sexual orientation. On its development, sexuality has been strongly influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors. Through history and culture, female sexuality has been recognized and shown in the temples, stories and legends. For example, the Borobudur Temple (the bottom of this temple depicts human sexuality) and the Suko Temple (there is a relief depicting vagina in a very large size in the courtyard of the temple.) However, because of patriarchal domination, the symbols are eliminated and silenced aimed at preventing women from determining the sovereignty of her own body, and remain being a marginalized party.


2. In Indonesia, the issue of sexuality lags behind compared with reproductive health issues, although there have been scholarly discussions of sexuality in relation to International Law such as the Cairo Decision 1993. The issue of sexuality has only become public discourse in the past five to ten years, particularly after the ousting of the New Order government that uncovered frauds related to Gerwani’s (the Indonesian Communist Party/PKI female wing) activities and history and its relation to the events of the G 30 S PKI. Therefore, throughout its history, sexuality serves as sites of political struggle, in which patriarchal power has been very influential and dominated in its determination.


3. Sexual rights are very much determined by power and political or economic interests of dominant groups. For example, in the case of ‘Inul’s Erotic Dance’. It became a controversy because SCTV station paid Inul Rp. 1 billion, or the highest payment of dangdut singers’ back then, which ultimately made other established dangdut singers envy. This phenomenon clearly illustrates how women’s bodies are often “contested” especially by the state, religion and industry.


4. Sexuality is also closely linked to poverty because the laws that are gender blind internalize concepts of male sexuality and female sexuality. It tends to construct the definition of female sexuality as items that can be owned and traded by men. As a result, women often become sex objects of men, in which ‘the price’ is determined by men. The Marriage Act is an example of such laws as it considers that it is ‘legitimate’ to exchange female sexuality through marriage dowry given by prospective husband. The close relations between sexuality with female reproductive function lead to the assumption that women are only worthy of a role in the domestic domain. In addition, the dominance of patriarchy in the Marriage Act also provides other “benefits” in the form of paternity rights, which allows a father to deny his son or whether he was the father of a child conceived by a woman. A jurisprudence of the law, in fact, stipulates that biological father must provide a living to his biological children. Patriarchal dominance is very detrimental because it does not recognize women as a sovereign individual to determine the good for herself.


5. Patriarchal domination is also reflected in other laws such as Demographic Administration Law that adopts a binary opposition. The recognized composition of family is that of heterosexual couple, disregarding the existence of other possible sexual relationships. ID cards only mention male or female in its section of sexual identity. There is no recognition of sexual identity as lesbian, gay or transsexual.


6. The Criminal Code adopts the definition of sexuality based on mainstream patriarchal domination. There has been Articles placement homogenization in the Criminal Code, which puts articles links to decency crimes in one cluster, thus, generalizing cases such as rape, trafficking and sexual abuse, having sex with children, having sex with an unconscious man with the murder of animals and gambling. Ironically, the definition of decency in the Criminal Code is limited to sexual relationship and penis penetration to vagina, which ultimately put female body as a symbol of morality and moral as well as sexual objects. These result in the criminalization of victims, who are generally women.


7. In addressing the events of the attack against Ahmadiyya followers, religion is not exactly a proper domain to serve as a benchmark to judge what is right and what is wrong. Religion is men’s relationship with God Almighty. The state must protect and not have rights to say whether something is heretical or not. Other religions may say it is heretical or not, but whatever it is, there shall be no judgment, let alone judgment with violence. If you want to change those who are considered heretical, one way to do it is by preaching them to follow their (religion). However, the main point here is there must be no coercion or violence.

Study questions:


  1. How could the binary system and the social construction of the mainstream be dismantled?
  2. Why is it important to discuss about privacy rights?
  3. To which extent may Privacy Rights be maintained?
  4. Why are people afraid when talking about sex and sexuality?
  5. At which point could a private sphere’s immune power (power of vulnerability, power endurance) reach? If we can survive, what are the restrictions?
  6. Are there a more fundamental conflict of interest related to the welfare of a person when a religion is politicized or sexual rights are politicized?
  7. Why is social pressure capable of silencing one’s privacy rights?
  8. Why are a kind of powerlessness of the law (unfair trial) and the powerlessness of the state apparatus (police) happening recently?
  9. Why is Ahmadiyya disputed only recently? This organization has been approved by the government since 1953, making its strong foundation under the law.
  10. Where is our space to defend the rights of citizens from discriminatory tendencies and acts of violence perpetrated by the majority of patriarchy?


Answers and comments:

1. One way to do it is by focusing on social deconstruction of the concepts of morality in the legal system, interpretation of scripture, counter discourse and elimination of various practices that degrade groups considered abnormal.


2. Privacy rights of a person can only be intervened when there is violence and discrimination. Victims of violence should be protected by the state because the state has a duty or ‘State responsibility’.


3. Privacy rights are wholly owned by individuals and it is the autonomy and sovereignty of each individual (either male or female) to maintain it with the conditions that there is no discrimination, violence, disturbance and harm against others. The most obvious example is the case of Luna Maya and Ariel, which are fully their private rights. The case falls into their sphere of autonomy and sovereignty because there was no discrimination and violence that harmed others and their sexual relations were consensual. Such a sexual relation could not be intervened on behalf of anything, including moral or religion.


4. Sex and sexuality have always been brought into the concept of binary oppositions of good and bad. It appears as if there is good sex and bad sex, which do not refer to healthy sex. “Good” sex is influenced by the social construction of morality. If someone is claimed to conduct bad sexual behavior, that person will most likely be judged to be immoral.


5. The limit is when there is no violence and discrimination. Each person must interpret moral with his/her conscience and morals and should not judge and commit violence against another person. We are not allowed to make moral as the foundation of law because moral is moral.


6. Welfare is the key to prevent conflict in society. If there are sufficient economic resources, there shall be no conflict like we are experiencing today. Conflicts occur because the state continually perpetuate policies that are very racist and gender discriminatory inherited from the Dutch colonial times and become certain interests to politicize religion and law.


7. Social pressure can eliminate a person’s privacy rights because it uses moral as the basis. When morals become a benchmark, no one dares to argue as the person will have to face the power of the dominant patriarchy that constructing mainstream morality in society. Violation against moral should not be a legal issue; a person’s moral is the business between that person and God.


8. This happens because of social pressure and pressure of the mass that enable certain groups to discriminate and commit violence against others. The strength of this mass is unmeasured and uncontrolled whenever an act of violence occurs. Therefore, the police often tend to ‘let’ the likelihood of discrimination and acts of violence perpetrated by majorities against minorities to avoid becoming the target of violence.


9. Ahmadiyya resource distribution is much better compared to other religious organizations, which tend to be corrupt and disregard about the welfare of their followers. It creates social jealousy towards the success of the Ahmadiyya organization itself.


10. Our space of struggle occurs by constantly attempting to reassemble and re-think and deconstruct the binary opposition that hegemonizes female sexuality. It is an attempt to regain the sovereignty of the body, mind and sexuality of women


A privacy right is recognized only when it’s related to male and hetero sexual. Women and other minorities have to struggle to define and seize their own rights.