Every child has rights protected by the state. In Indonesia, children have the rights to be able to live, grow, develop, and participate with dignity, while receiving protection from violence and discrimination (Article 4 of Law 23 of 2002).
However, these rights are rarely fulfilled for children in Indonesia, many are unaware of their rights and thus face verbal, physical, or emotional abuse. A recent case involves a girl (AR) who attends Samba High School, Riau Islands. At school, AR was called a “lonte” (meaning whore) by her religion teacher (SK) in front of her friends and teaches on her way out of class. The incident embarrassed AR, bringing her to tears on the way home. AR’s mother, enraged at the teacher’s actions, went to school to understand the incident. Unfortunately, the teacher (SK) did not show remorse, going so far as to threaten to expel AR from the school. As a result of this incident, AR was bullied by her peers and did not want to go to school.
The actions of this teacher counts as a form of verbal sexual violence against women. According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, sexism is defined as the unfair treatment of people, especially women, on the basis of sex. The term “lonte” culturally contains a sexually suggestive undertone, entirely inappropriate to be used in daily conversation, not to mention towards young women under the age of 18. The word intended to demean someone’s dignity, while suggesting that a certain norm for the role of women.
We often encounter these sexist terms in everyday life. Its emergence is inseparable from the patriarchal construction of gender roles and only serve to reinforce the idea that women must be ‘pure’. Patriarchal culture expects women to be obedient, gentle, merciful, patient, and have feminine qualities. Words like “lonte” forces negative stereotypes, so that when a woman does not fulfill the qualities above, she can be labeled and alienated. In contrast, we rarely find sexual insults against men.
It’s horrifying that a teacher, who is expected to prepare students for the future, would be so ignorant of a child’s rights. Cases like these may hamper the fulfillment of AR’s rights as a child to get an education. There is no justification to the teacher’s actions. Violent practices such as bullying and sexism like this must be eliminated, especially in the school environment because school is where humanity is formed. It is time for schools to ensure child protection without discrimination by focusing on the fulfillment of children’s rights as stipulated in Law No. 23 of 2002 concerning Child Protection.
Editor: Mellysa Anastasya
Translator: Faye Simanjuntak