No clear figures on rapes during recent riots
The Straits Times, 25 Jun 1998
JAKARTA -- Women's Affairs Minister Tuti Allawiyah has said she has not received accurate data from any party, including non-government groups, on what some here have described as the systematic rape of ethnic Chinese Indonesian women in last month's riots.
"It seems that the rape victims are keeping their cases secret and that we have difficulties unveiling them," she told reporters after a meeting with President B. J. Habibie on Tuesday.
She called the rapes at the height of the riots in Jakarta "very inhuman".
Activist groups estimate more than 100 rapes took place, many in a frighteningly systematic fashion, targeting women among Indonesia's ethnic Chinese minority.
The Chinese community also bore the brunt of the physical damage and terror of the mid-May riots.
The traumatised rape victims had mostly remained silent because of shame and fear of retaliation, activists said. Only now is the subject being discussed more freely.
The gang rapes took on a disturbingly similar pattern throughout Jakarta on May 14 as rioters took control of most of the city of 10 million in the worst violence in the capital in decades.
The rioters would attack houses, rape the younger women, burn the house, and move on to the next house, the activists said.
Prominent members of the ethnic Chinese community said the consequences were too hard to take for some of the women victims.
Hotel manager Lim Sian Tie, who attended a seminar last week on riot trauma, said he was told one woman killed herself by drinking insecticide after she was raped in front of her husband and children in the Chinatown district of North Jakarta.
Ms Ita Naida, chairman of the Kalyanmitra women's group, said victims reported a pattern whereby young women were targeted and older ones passed by.
Swamped by appeals for help, the psychology department at a Jakarta university has set up a forum to encourage women to speak out in public.
The National Commission on Human Riots has said that at least 1,188 people died in the riots which peaked on May 14. Reuters
[LINK] Forest funds seized from Suharto-linked firms [LINK] Union calls off labour protest at Parliament
Copyright =A9 1998 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.