174 sexual abuse survivors across Indonesia speak up

  • Survivors of sexual harassment step forward and shed light into the quiet fact that sexual harassment and abuse on campuses in Indonesia are widespread
  • Most of the victims are female, with seven victims are male
  • The abuse happens both inside and outside the campus

Survivors of sexual harassment step forward and shed light into the quiet fact that sexual harassment and abuse on campuses in Indonesia are widespread, and have been rampant in 29 cities from the wester to eastern parts of Indonesia. 

Channel News Asia shared the story of one student in Sumatra, and how she recalled her chilling story of sexual abuse at the hands of her lecturer. 

“The road was quiet with only palm trees around and it was only two of us in his car when he began to caress my thigh and slip his hand under my bottom. I don’t know why but I couldn’t scream. I didn’t fight back because I was so scared. I was afraid he would get angry and he could do anything to me if I screamed. I could be killed. I didn’t want to die in vain.”

She was going with him on a field trip to do research.

This includes 79 states, private and religious-based universities. The cities include Serang and Tangerang in Banten, Medan in North Sumatra, Makassar in South Sulawesi and Malang in East Java. 

Many of these cases were not reported and those that were are mostly unresolved.


Most survivors were female college students at the time of the alleged abuse, with seven being male. There was an array of abusers, according to the survivors, who shared that it could either be a student or by a lecturer. The victims shared that they would be harassed when going about their daily activities, during university events, internship programs, community service programs, or while doing field research. 

NamaBaikCampus logo
The Jakarta Post/Budhi Button

Earlier this year, The Jakarta Post, VICE Indonesia, and Trito.id were already working to shed light onto this problem in a project called #NAmaBaikKampus (CampusReputation). The project received more than 20 testimonies, 174 of them were alleged cases of sexual harassment. 

Yogyakarta and Semarang are home to Gadjah Mada University (UGM) and Diponegoro University (Undip), respectively, which have been named in high profile cases of alleged sexual abuse. Last November, a female student under the pseudonym Agni gave the UGM student magazine to pursue and publish an investigative report based on her testimony as well as the full details of her account.

Agni detailed that a fellow student had assaulted her during a community service project at a Maluku village in June 2017. The project is said to be the kind of field school program that lasts for several months and involves students live with local families in the target village.

She shared the harrowing details of her experience, including how she found her fellow KKN student was sexually harassing her during her sleep. Agni said she immediately reported the incident to her supervisor and the UGM Community service department, which managed the program. 

But even though they sent the harasser back to Yogyakarta, they also blamed Agni for the incident, with one official even telling her to “repent.”

Agni said that after the assault, she often felt scared at night and ended up staying awake all night. She also had suicidal thoughts, she said as quoted by Balairung, the university newspaper. It was also reported that she got a very low grade in the community service program, as she had to share the blame for the incident that “embarrassed UGM” in front of the local villagers.

In another story shared by a survivor, who was a medical student at an Islamic-based university in Central Java, she claims to have been harassed before an operation by a doctor during her internship at a hospital. 

“He was sleeping in a resting room so I called him because the patient was ready for surgery. He then asked me to sit next to him for a chit chat. He was my professor so I did what he asked me to do, I sat down. He then put his arms around me and tried to kiss me. I was so shocked I didn’t fight back; I just covered my face with my hands. Luckily, my friend suddenly opened the door, I got up and excused myself,” she told #NamaBaikKampus. 

Cases like these have already been highlighted. In 2016, there were also other reports that surfaced, going as back as 2008. And these are only the reported cases. With a culture of suffocating silence blanketing this issue, more people fall victim without a proper voice. -The Jakarta Post/Channel News Asia

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