Don’t Appoint Judge to Indonesian Supreme Court After Offensive Rape Comment

Target: The Judicial Commission of Indonesia

Goal: Do not grant judge Muhammad Daming Sunusi a seat on the Supreme Court following his insensitive comments about rape

Muhammad Daming Sunusi is yet another high-positioned official who has seriously misconstrued what rape is. Sunusi is a judge in Indonesia who, when being interviewed for a position on the Indonesian Supreme Court, suggested that women might enjoy rape.

The context of this absurdity was that when the parliamentary panel conducting the interview asked Mr. Sunusi whether the death penalty was a suitable punishment for rape, he apparently replied: “Since both the attacker and the victim might have enjoyed it, we have to think twice about imposing the death penalty.” While we can all agree that thinking twice about imposing the death penalty should be the minimal requirement for a country that still uses this inhumane form of punishment, Sunusi’s statement reflects an ignorance that is exceptionally and outrageously offensive to rape victims and compassionate people everywhere. The chairman of the parliamentary panel addressed the media saying that Sunusi’s comment was inappropriate, but reportedly, the immediate response of the panel to Sunusi’s remark was laughter. Sunusi has since then tried to justify his offensive remark, passing it off as a joke he made to ease the tension. As the public anger in response to his comment has grown, he has gone on to apologize, saying his words were out of control.

Several political parties in Indonesia have said that they will oppose Sunusi’s nomination, including the Democratic Party, which holds the greatest number of seats in the Parliamentary panel overseeing the appointment. Women’s rights groups and other human rights activists are publicly protesting the remark, demanding that Sunusi be removed from consideration immediately. Others, however, have defended Sunusi, pointing to his 24 years of experience, and his current position as the chief of one of the country’s high courts.

This is not the first controversial comment about rape made by an Indonesian official. Last year, the Governor of Jakarta reportedly said that women should not wear miniskirts when using public transportation to avoid “unwanted consequences”. Statements like these should not be taken lightly. An apology does not remove the ignorance behind such remarks. The controversial comments by US Republican Todd Akin last year, saying that “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” most likely cost him a seat in the US Senate. Sunusi’s comments should cost him a position on the Indonesian Supreme Court. Sign this petition and urge the Judicial Commission of Indonesia remove Sunusi’s application from consideration, telling the public that rape is not a joking matter.


Dear members of the Judicial Commission,

The recent comment by Mr. Sunusi about rape possibly being enjoyable to the victim is horrifying and deeply offensive to women and compassionate people everywhere. The fact that he is a highly ranked judge, and potential candidate for a position on the Supreme Court, makes matters even more appalling.

Comments like these help to perpetuate stigmatization of rape cases, and rape victims are the ones who are forced to pay the price. There are already staggering numbers of rape incidents that remain unreported, and knowing that representatives of a country’s legal system have views that fail to recognize the horrendous nature of such a crime will not likely prompt more victims of rape to come forward. Rape victims should be encouraged to come forward without having to face potential suspicions that they might have actually enjoyed the attack.

It cannot be acceptable for a potential Supreme Court judge to joke about rape, nor does an apology remove the ignorance and gross insensitivity behind such remarks. The appointment of Sunusi would reflect very negatively on the stature of Indonesia in the world community. Sunusi should not be granted a position in the Indonesian Supreme Court. Please remove his application from consideration, and show the Indonesian public and the world community that rape is not a joking matter.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Mr. T in DC via Flickr

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