A man accused of harassing a young woman after touching her thigh on a bus, was eventually released from custody after police decided that he wasn’t guilty — because she was wearing long pants.
The incident occurred in Jatinegara, a suburb in Jakarta, Indonesia. The bus officer confirmed that the man even owned up to what he did, according to Coconuts Jakarta.
But police don’t see it that way.
Bambang Edi, the head of criminal investigations for the Jatinegara police division, told Vivanews: “She was wearing long pants, and he happened to touch her thigh since they were sitting next to each other.”
“Unless she’s wearing a skirt…”
“If he had grabbed her breasts or genitals, or if he had shown his genitalia then that would be harassment.
“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,” the police chief was quoted as saying.
This is disturbing, as the man had already admitted to frequently sexually harassing women on the bus, according to Fitri, the bus officer who witnessed the incident.
The incident also comes just two days after a Women’s March in Jakarta was held.
Indonesian women are furious. A commenter on Facebook said sarcastically: “News like this [is] frustrating. If I do not say ‘yes’, then it means ‘no’. So easy to understand. By the way, happy International Women’s Day!”
Another said: “Stabbing the hands of someone touching my thighs of the bus should also not be a crime.”
Over 90 percent of rape cases in Indonesia have gone unreported, according to a survey by Lentera Sintas Indonesia, a support group for victims of sexual violence.
Many victims also say they have low confidence in the police with regard to resolving cases of sexual violence, said the Komnas Perempuan, or the National Commission on Violence Against Women.
Earlier this year, an Australian writer in Jakarta live-tweeted being sexually harassed 13 times in 35 minutes, and wrote a blog post about the experience that went viral.