Jakarta: Legal system failing women with disabilities

Women’s Legal Aid (LBH APIK) has called for an improvement in regulations to assist women with disabilities in navigating the legal system, citing insufficient provisions for these women’s needs in the legal process.

The organization noted that women with a disability often faced legal difficulties as their testimonies were often deemed unreliable as the necessary interpreters were not provided during questioning, hampering their access to justice.

In 2014, the organization recorded six cases of rape involving women with disabilities. Just one of those cases was processed in court, with that case resulting in six months’ imprisonment compared to the maximum sentence of 15 years.

“The current Code of Criminal Procedures does not stipulate an obligation to provide adequate facilities for people with a disability such as making available an interpreter during police questioning,” said Siti Mazumah from LBH APIK in a discussion on disabled persons on Tuesday.

The law enforcers also often fail to realize the disabled person’s mental age.

This concern was also voiced by Adj. Comr. Siti Zubaidah from the National Police’s law division.

“Sometimes the officers fail to see the disabled person’s mental age, regardless of how old she is chronologically. This then leads to a failure to implement appropriate laws such as the Child Protection Law,” she said.

She went on to say that some police investigators still had not fully understood the concept of disabilities and the needs of people with disabilities.

The chairperson of the Association of Healthy Souls, Yeni Rosa Damayanti, warned of the impact of such discriminatory treatment.

“The result is scary. As disabled women are seen as legally incompetent, they can’t say no, and be heard, when their rights are taken away,” she said.

Apart from the call to re-examine the disability bill, amendments to the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedures, LBH APIK called on the National Police chief to implement specific guidelines on dealing with women with disabilities in police investigations.

Indonesia has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) through Law No. 19/2011 on CRPD ratification. The CRPD requires the state to respect, fulfill and protect the rights of disabled persons. (fsu)(+++)

SOURCE:  Jakarta Post