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Women 'target of violence' in Aceh camps

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    http://www.thejakartapost.com/detailheadlines.asp?fileid=20060401.@01&irec=0 Women target of violence in Aceh camps Hera Diani, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2006

      Women 'target of violence' in Aceh camps

      Hera Diani, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta


      Cramped, poorly laid-out living quarters are leaving Acehnese refugee women vulnerable to violence, with sex crimes accounting for over 50 percent of recent reported cases.

      A five-month study of 59 facilities for people left homeless by the December 2004 tsunami determined 146 cases of violence, the National Commission on Violence Against Women in Aceh said Thursday.

      Reported acts ranged from 10 incidents of rape, sexual assault, verbal abuse, forced marriage/divorce to peeping toms in public bathrooms.

      The actual figure may be considerably higher, with many women afraid to report sexual violence because of the shame associated with the crimes and society's blaming of the victim.

      Most of the crimes in the study -- which began last October in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam -- were committed by people close to the women. Most of the women were aged below 28 years of age, with one gang-rape of a 15-year-old by seven men.

      The commission's report also said about 75 percent of domestic violence victims reported their assaults to the police, who had responded positively in most cases by arresting the alleged perpetrators.

      Aside from sexual violence, women refugees also suffered physical, psychological and economic abuse, the latter including abandonment and blackmail.

      There were also 38 cases of gender discrimination reported by 136 women, who said their rights as refugees were limited, for instance, in the decision-making process.

      There were also three cases of underage prostitution, which the report said was due to poverty and a legacy of the armed conflict in the province.

      About 67,000 people remained in tent communities and 30,000 in shelters in Aceh at the end of 2005.

      The report found poor facilities in the camps left women vulnerable to violence.

      Living quarters were overcrowded, closely located to each other and lacking proper air circulation, with three people to a three by three meter room, and four crammed into a four by five meter room.

      Almost half of the sites were poorly lit, with 20 percent unable to be shut or locked. Bathrooms, 97 percent which are shared between the sexes, are generally far from the living quarters; 54 percent were at the end of dimly lit paths and 25 percent did not provide sufficient privacy.

      The commission called on the government and Aceh administration to be more involved in supervising security at refugee facilities and to set up state-run agencies for women to report assaults.

      It also urged law enforcers to uphold the law on domestic violence, as well as urging government to empower women particularly on economy.

      The commission said it would release the full report on April 21, before it is presented to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

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