Skip to main content

Indonesian judge in hot water for suggesting rape victims enjoy it

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
January 17, 2013 -- Updated 0320 GMT (1120 HKT)
(File photo) Women stage a protest wearing miniskirts in Jakarta on September 18, 2011.
(File photo) Women stage a protest wearing miniskirts in Jakarta on September 18, 2011.
  • Daming Sanusi says that in rape cases "both the rapist and the victim enjoy it"
  • His remarks prompt outrage and appear to derail his Supreme Court bid
  • He apologizes and says he was trying to make a joke
  • His comments come after controversial comments on rape in the United States

(CNN) -- If you're running for office, it's best not to make incendiary comments about rape. That appears to be as much the case in Indonesia as it is in the United States.

Daming Sanusi, a candidate for the Indonesian Supreme Court, has fueled outrage in the predominantly Muslim country by suggesting that rape victims enjoy being violated.

Read more: 'Mother Robin' delivers for poor women in Indonesia

He made the comments Monday in front of a parliamentary commission hearing to determine if he was a fit for the top court, according to the official Indonesian news agency Antara.

Helping low-income women and babies
India's mindset over rape
Former cop: Indian police reform needed
Lakshmi: Problem is bigger than rape

In response to a question about whether the death penalty should be applied in rape cases, Daming reportedly said, "Consideration needs to be taken thoroughly for the imposition of death penalty for a rapist because in a rape case both the rapist and the victim enjoy it."

News of his comments quickly spread on social media, prompting anger, disgust and calls for Daming's candidature for the Supreme Court to be shot down.

CNN iReport: Women of Indonesia

"We ask legislators not to give the judge position to Daming, as he had offended people`s feeling by uttering inappropriate statement," Ridwan Bakar, a spokesman for the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, said Tuesday.

As the furor grew, Daming issued an apology, acknowledging that his words were "out of control."

In a news conference, he said that he was nervous in the session in front of the lawmakers and made the comment as a joke.

"I made the remark without realizing it can harm people's feeling," Antara cited him as saying.

Damage is done

But his contrition appeared to be too little too late.

"The damage has been done," Primastuti Handayani, the managing editor of the Jakarta Post wrote in a commentary published Wednesday. "Nothing he said in his apology can heal the wound he caused."

She also noted that Daming is not the first Indonesian official to make controversial comments about rape, highlighting the case last year of Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo, who said women should avoid wearing miniskirts on public transport to avoid "any unwanted consequences."

Indonesian political figures began to distance themselves from Daming amid the outrage this week, and his chances of being selected as a Supreme Court justice seemed to wither.

Opinion: Why have men lost touch with reality over rape?

The chairman of the parliamentary commission, Gede Pasek Suardika, said that Daming's remarks were inappropriate and that the public outcry against him would be taken into consideration. Members of the commission from the Prosperous Justice Party recommended against selecting him.

The controversy that sprung up around Daming mirrors outrage in the United States over remarks about rape made by Republicans Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin.

Once leading in the polls, Mourdock and Akin both lost their Senate races to Democrats in November after their comments on pregnancy and rape were widely circulated.

Read more: Divorce by text message sparks bizarre legal battle in Indonesia

When asked on a local news show what he thought about abortion in the case of rape, Akin set off the controversy when he said, "First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Mourdock was participating in a televised debate when he said, "Life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

And Rep. Phil Gingrey, Republican of Georgia, revived the furor last week when he commented on the cases of Mourdock and Akin, and reportedly suggested Akin was "partly right."

Gingrey later said his words, reported by the Marietta Daily-Journal, had been misconstrued.

Opinion: End culture of rape in 2013

Part of complete coverage on
Violence against women in India
She was attacked at a rural police station, and her landmark case awakened India decades ago.
January 28, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
An Indian army corporal suspected of sexually assaulting a 14-month-old girl has been taken into custody.
November 17, 2013 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
Giving voice to the victims of violence has power. When a discussion builds around it, those voices gain strength.
December 16, 2013 -- Updated 0222 GMT (1022 HKT)
The colorful, busy streets of New Delhi are a mixture of old and new. Some people have modern attitudes, while others remain rooted in ancient values.
December 16, 2013 -- Updated 0223 GMT (1023 HKT)
When CNN's Sumnima Udas tells people outside India that she lives in New Delhi, she is almost always asked: "Do you feel safe there?" or worse, "what's with the rape culture in India?"
September 14, 2013 -- Updated 2043 GMT (0443 HKT)
An Indian court sentenced four men to death for the rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi, an attack that appalled the South Asian nation.
September 4, 2014 -- Updated 0123 GMT (0923 HKT)
The New Delhi rape case left the whole world wondering why India is treating its women so badly.
September 10, 2013 -- Updated 1010 GMT (1810 HKT)
An Indian court finds four men guilty of the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi in 2012.
August 28, 2013 -- Updated 0828 GMT (1628 HKT)
I wasn't raped, but my attackers sexually assaulted and then tried to kill me.
August 14, 2013 -- Updated 1121 GMT (1921 HKT)
They're called the Red Brigade, a group of teenagers who are facing sex pests head on, vigilante-style.
August 23, 2013 -- Updated 1549 GMT (2349 HKT)
A U.S. student's experience of sexual harassment in India triggers more anguish and sympathy from women in India.
August 23, 2013 -- Updated 1811 GMT (0211 HKT)
American student Michaela Cross says during a three-month trip to India she experienced relentless sexual harassment, groping and worse.
August 15, 2013 -- Updated 1029 GMT (1829 HKT)
Months after the brutal rape of an Indian woman on a bus, have measures to address violence against women worked?
March 7, 2013 -- Updated 2147 GMT (0547 HKT)
New Delhi is known as the crime capital of India. CNN's Sumnima Udas talks to women there about what daily life is like.
July 16, 2013 -- Updated 1106 GMT (1906 HKT)
There's one clear observation from the outcry to India's rape crisis: some of the voices belong to India's men.
January 16, 2013 -- Updated 1906 GMT (0306 HKT)
'Top Chef' Host Padma Lakshmi weighs in on the New Delhi gang rape case and shares her experience living in India.
January 3, 2013 -- Updated 1841 GMT (0241 HKT)
The director of Amnesty International, India, says that execution "would just perpetuate the cycle of violence."
January 16, 2013 -- Updated 2355 GMT (0755 HKT)
The Delhi police bore the brunt of criticism for a December gang rape, but now they say they're changing their ways.
January 4, 2013 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
The fatal gang rape of a young woman sparked weeks of angry protests and heated debates about sexual violence in Indian society.
January 3, 2013 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
The New Delhi woman who was gang-raped died with her honor intact; her rapists will live in ignominy, actress Leeza Mangaldas writes.