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Indonesian activist lifts lid on rape of Chinese women in May 1998 riots: ‘it was a new low’

What Media Says

In this article: Julia Suryakusuma

Written by Johannes Nugroho, and was originally published in SCMP

May 26, 2023

Much of the dark chapter around the assault of Indonesian-Chinese women remains unspoken, 25 years after the violence.

Feminist Julia Suryakusuma says the government’s inability to come clean about the events is a potent reminder that women’s rights have a long way to go in Indonesia.

Indonesian author and leading feminist Julia Suryakusuma was in Jakarta when the May 1998 riots erupted and the capital city descended into chaos, as mobs attacked and looted businesses that had Indonesian-Chinese owners. After 32 years of rule by military dictator Suharto, Indonesians violently rose up to protest against food shortages, mass unemployment, corruption and the economic crisis, and the minority Chinese community – long targeted by discriminatory policies and blamed for stealing jobs – came under attack.

“Given the economic crisis, the looting was perhaps understandable, but the fact hundreds of Chinese women were raped was a new low for us,” said Suryakusuma.

Read the full article here.

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