Indonesia: Top court rejects woman's appeal over boss's lewd call

Baiq Nuril Maknun, who was a teacher on the island of Lombok, had complained of getting lewd calls from her boss.

    Indonesia's #MeToo movement has gained some traction with some women sharing their experiences of sexual harassment [Willy Kurniawan/Reuters]
    Indonesia's #MeToo movement has gained some traction with some women sharing their experiences of sexual harassment [Willy Kurniawan/Reuters]

    Indonesia's top court has rejected an appeal of a woman who was handed a prison sentence for trying to report her boss for alleged sexual harassment.

    Baiq Nuril Maknun, a teacher on the island of Lombok, had complained of getting lewd phone calls from the principal of a high school where she worked seven years ago.

    She had recorded some of the phone calls without the knowledge of the headteacher and had given a recording to a third person, and distributed it on an electronic device, which resulted in the principal losing his job.

    The Supreme Court on Thursday found Maknun guilty of violating strict anti-pornography laws. It overturned her acquittal by a lower court and jailed her for six months.

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    She was also ordered to pay a fine of 500 million rupiah ($35,383). The court also dismissed the challenge from Maknun on Thursday saying she failed to produce new evidence. 

    The ruling was condemned by rights groups and supporters who established an online crowdfunding appeal to pay for her legal costs last year. 

    "We are concerned about the impact of this decision because it opens a door for perpetrators of sexual violence to criminalise victims," said Ade Wahyudin, executive director of the Legal Aid Foundation for the Press.

    Presidential amnesty?

    The case against Maknun goes back to 2012, when she recorded the principal of the school where she worked discussing graphic sexual details about an affair he was having with another colleague.

    Co-workers of the school administrator - who herself had rebuffed the principal's repeated advances - later convinced her to release the recording in a bid to expose the man's history of lecherous behaviour.

    Maknun was initially cleared of the charges by a local court on the island of Lombok where the school was located but Indonesia's top court reversed the decision, finding her guilty of violating the electronic information law.

    Maknun's legal team said a prison sentence had to be at least two years long before clemency could be sought, but the president could grant an amnesty.

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    "The only thing possible now is amnesty from the president because we have exhausted all other legal avenues," said Aziz Fauzi, a lawyer for Maknun.

    President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who recently won a second term in office, said earlier Maknun could seek clemency from him if she did not find justice through a judicial review.

    There was no immediate comment by the president's office on the latest ruling.

    Indonesia's #MeToo movement has gained some traction with some women sharing their experiences of sexual harassment.

    But the movement has had limited effect in the predominately conservative society of the world's most populous Muslim country, compared with that seen in some other countries.

    SOURCE: News agencies