Shocked Jakarta acts on rape terror
The Hong Kong Standard, 9 Jul 1998
JAKARTA (AP): Shocked by rapes reportedly committed during riots in May, Indonesia's government yesterday established a task force to protect women against sexual violence.
The new body is to be headed by Hasri Ainun Habibie, the wife of President B J Habibie, and Women's Affairs Minister Tutty Alawiyah.
Human rights groups have documented more than 100 cases of rape and sexual assault during the rioting, which led to the ouster of Mr Suharto as president. However, they estimate many victims have not come forward.
Most rape victims are believed to be from the ethnic Chinese minority, which was made a scapegoat for the nation's deep economic crisis.
"The priority is to protect women and to ensure that violence against women, seen on 13 and 14 May, doesn't happen again," Mrs Alawiyah told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.
On Tuesday, the national Human Rights Commission acknowledged that rapes and sexual harassment were used by groups to terrorise Chinese during the riots.
Women's groups have said the government has been slow to investigate the rape reports.
Rioting over several days, together with student-led democracy protests, helped end Mr Suharto's 32-year authoritarian rule. About 1,200 people were killed in the violence.
Mobs of looters and arsonists destroyed hundreds of Chinese-owned stores in anger over the country's economic decline.