JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s Parliament approved a far-reaching law that sets punishments for sexual violence after being spurred into action by a recent case in which an Islamic boarding school principal raped and impregnated several students.
The legislation had languished for years amid arguments that it contravenes religious and cultural values in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation.
The law recognizes men and children can be victims of sexual violence. Indonesia’s Criminal Code, a legacy of the Dutch colonial era recognizes only rape and lewd crimes committed by men against women and doesn’t have provisions for restitution or other remedies for victims and survivors.
Nine forms of sexual violence are recognized in the law: physical and nonphysical sexual harassment, sexual torture, forced contraception, forced sterilization, forced marriage, sexual slavery, sexual exploitation and cyber sexual harassment.
In addition to acknowledging sexual violence as punishable criminal acts, the law has provisions for protection and recovery for the victims.
Of the House of Representative’s nine political parties, only the conservative Muslim-based Prosperous Justice Party, known as PKS, rejected the bill because they wanted it to prohibit extramarital sex and homosexual relations.
“Our rejection is part of our struggle to fight for the prohibition and punishment of perpetrators of adultery and sexual deviations which are ultimately not included in the bill,” said Al Muzzamil Yusuf, a legislator from PKS.
The law was passed a week after an Indonesian high court sentenced an Islamic boarding school principal to death for raping at least 13 students over five years and impregnating some of them. Several girls were 11 and 14 years old and were raped over several years, drawing a public outcry over why he wasn’t caught earlier.
President Joko Widodo in January appealed to the House to speed up deliberation on the sexual violence bill after it had languished in the legislature since 2016 as critics lambasted lawmakers for having “no sense of crisis.”
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A private company announced that power had been fully restored to Puerto Rico’s almost 1.5 million customers nearly five days after a fire at a main power plant sparked an island-wide blackout and prompted public schools and government agencies to close.
Officials are now focused on investigating what exactly caused the failure of a circuit breaker at a substation within the Costa Sur power plant in southern Puerto Rico, one of four main plants in the U.S. territory.
“I know many in Puerto Rico are asking, ‘How is it that this happened?’” said Wayne Stensby, CEO of Luma, a company that took over transmission and distribution for the Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority last year. “There’s no question the electricity grid in Puerto Rico is incredibly fragile.”
The blackout outraged and worried many on the island of 3.2 million people, including those who cannot afford generators and have medical conditions including diabetes and respiratory issues that depend on electricity for their treatments.
Customers angry over the extended outage noted they have been hit with recent increases in their power bills, and people complained the blackout damaged electrical appliances and forced them to throw out groceries as the island struggles to emerge from a more than decade-long economic crisis.
Gary Soto, director of Luma project system operations, said another outage occurred just days after the blackout that affected 25% of customers due to a new failure at another power plant involving a boiler that crews had recently repaired.
Shay Bahramirad, an engineering vice president, said a third party will look into the failure of the circuit breaker, noting that the blackout occurred 19 seconds after the initial fault was recorded. She said equipment at the power plant where the fire occurred dates from 1969 to the mid-1970s, although she declined to provide details including maintenance records on the failed circuit breaker, saying it would be taken out of context.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Prolonged rains and flooding in the Durban area of South Africa have claimed the lives of at least 45 people, damaging the port, major highways and surrounding areas in KwaZulu-Natal province, according to local officials.
South Africa’s military has been deployed to Durban and the surrounding eThekwini metropolitan area to assist with rescue operations as residents flee flooded areas.
Some people have been swept away by surging waters, say officials. Durban port, the largest and busiest shipping terminal in sub-Saharan Africa, has been inundated with floodwaters that carried away shipping containers and left them in a jumbled pile.
Authorities are providing shelter for several hundred people whose homes and possessions were washed away by the floods and technicians are working to restore electricity to areas where power had been knocked out.
Emergency services have for several days been responding to urgent calls for help from people stuck in their houses but the number is beginning to decrease, emergency services spokesman Robert McKenzie told The Associated Press.
“There are still cases of collapsed buildings where operations are still continuing,” he said.
“Most of our power stations have been flooded and our teams are working hard to restore power to the affected areas,” Mxolisi Kaunda, mayor of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality, told a press briefing.
“Our teams are on the ground to try and return the situation to normalcy,” he said. “We continue to assess the damages, we cannot be sure of the extent of the damages at the moment.”