Draft Penal Code Threatens Sexual and Reproductive Rights of all Indonesians

Last week’s announcement that Indonesia’s new penal code will include a number of very regressive articles, is extremely worrying and threatens the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all. The draft law includes the criminalisation of unmarried people living together, homosexuality, safe abortion and sharing information on contraception. Rutgers is gravely concerned by this drastic proposal, and stands in support of those opposing its ratification.

Human Rights Infringement

The new proposals will have negative consequences for everyone in Indonesia, but will particularly impact those already at risk, including women, young people, and sexual and religious minorities. It is both an infringement of human rights, as well as an unprecedented meddling in the private lives of Indonesians. Rutgers works across Indonesia with several of its international programmes aimed at empowering young people to live happy and healthy lives.

Access to Comprehensive Information on Sexual and Reproductive Health

The proposal to limit who can share information on contraception, will not only block young people’s access to sexuality education, but will result in an increase in teenage pregnancies. Furthermore, research conducted by Rutgers shows that in-school comprehensive sexuality education plays an important role in the contribution to more equitable gender norms, supports adolescents’ healthy development and has enormous potential for addressing much of the adversity girls and boys face, such as bullying and sexual harassment.

Conference on Family Planning in Indonesia

Next week, Rutgers is co-hosting the very first Indonesian conference on family planning and reproductive health in Yogyakarta. It will provide partners with valuable linking and learning opportunities on sexual and reproductive health and rights in Indonesia, and offer a forum to discuss the implications of the draft penal code.

Ending Child Marriages?

The announcement of the new penal code, follows a revision to the Indonesian marriage law, that was welcomed by Rutgers and other NGOs. In a bid to prevent child marriages, the government announced that the legal age at which people can get married will be raised to 19. This is seen as a positive first step towards the complete eradication of underage marriage. However, the criminalisation of anyone who has sex outside of marriage  also included in the draft penal code ,  is likely to lead to an increase in underage marriage. Therefore, in light of the new developments, this seems like one step forward and two steps back.

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