Femicide in Indonesia: A Disturbing Trend of Gender-Based Violence

In a horrifying incident that shocked the nation, Gregorius Ronald Tannur, a 31-year-old man, brutally attacked his 28-year-old girlfriend, Dini Sera Afrianti, leading to her tragic demise. Ronald, the son of Edward Tannur, a member of the PKB faction in the Indonesian Parliament representing the Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) region, committed this heinous act on Tuesday, October 4, 2023, at the Blackhole KTV karaoke lounge in Surabaya.

Reports indicate that Ronald assaulted Dini by striking her head with a bottle and dragging her with his car, causing her to be run over. Subsequently, he placed her lifeless body in the car trunk and intended to take her to his apartment. To his shock, when he arrived at the hospital, Dini was already unresponsive. Despite swift medical attention, she succumbed to her injuries on Wednesday, October 4, at 02:32 AM. The Surabaya Police Commissioner, Kombes Pol Pasma Royce, revealed that Ronald is facing multiple charges, including Article 351 paragraph 3 and Article 359 of the Indonesian Criminal Code. If convicted, he could face up to 12 years in prison.

This horrifying incident is not an isolated case. Indonesian society has been witnessing a disturbing trend of femicide, a term used to describe intentional killings or attempted killings of women based on their gender. Femicide can be driven by jealousy, possession, superiority, domination, and sadistic satisfaction over women. The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) categorizes femicide as sadism due to the motives, patterns, and impact it has on the victims’ families.

Looking back, several cases have garnered public attention due to their gruesome nature or the involvement of individuals close to the victims. For instance, there was the heart-wrenching incident where Nando, a 24-year-old man, killed his 24-year-old wife, Mega Sriyani Dewi, in Cikarang Barat, Bekasi, reportedly because of financial strain. Similarly, Riko Arizka, a 23-year-old man, brutally killed his ex-girlfriend in Pandeglang, Banten, using a toilet bowl. These incidents represent just a fraction of the femicide cases happening across Indonesia.

According to data from Komnas Perempuan, between September 2020 and mid-August 2021, 421 femicide cases were reported in the media. These cases spanned from 2016 to 2020, with a significant increase noted in 2018, totaling 100 cases. Unfortunately, these reported cases are likely just the tip of the iceberg, as many instances go unreported or unnoticed by the media.

Femicide, as highlighted by experts, stems from feelings of superiority, domination, misogyny, and a sense of ownership over women. This unequal power dynamic often places women in vulnerable positions, leading to violent and tragic outcomes. Psychologist Veronica Adesla emphasized the strong connection between femicide and imbalanced power relations, stating that women are frequently victimized due to deeply rooted patriarchal beliefs.

Despite the alarming rise in femicide cases, the Indonesian legal system does not specifically address this form of violence. Cases of gender-based murders are often treated as generic homicides, failing to recognize the underlying gender dynamics that contribute to these crimes. Many perpetrators get away with lenient sentences, as the legal system does not adequately consider the gender-based aspect of their crimes.

Mike Verawati, the Secretary-General of the Indonesian Women’s Coalition (KPI), has expressed deep concern over the inadequate response to femicide cases. She points out that femicide is not confined to domestic violence but can also manifest in forms such as rape in militaristic regimes or the silencing of women activists through murder.

To combat this growing crisis, experts like Bahrul Fuad, a commissioner at Komnas Perempuan, advocate for a change in legal approaches. Fuad suggests integrating femicide motives into the murder laws, ensuring that the punishment reflects the severity of these gender-based crimes. Furthermore, he calls for the issuance of guidelines by the Supreme Court for documenting gender-based murders, incorporating femicide terminology into court rulings.

Addressing femicide requires a collective effort from society, law enforcement, and the judicial system. It demands a profound shift in societal attitudes, challenging deeply ingrained gender norms, and fostering a culture of equality and respect. Only through these concerted efforts can Indonesia hope to put an end to the alarming rise of femicide cases and ensure the safety and well-being of its women.