Nita Dian (Tempo, Jakarta)

The round eyes glanced into the genset room near the toilet at Transjakarta’s Harmoni Sentral shelter. Her feet moved fast, stomping on the metal flooring. “That’s the place!” she said with suppressed anger. She tried to get a hold of herself, although she stood only a few meters away from the spot where she was sexually harassed. The year was 2014 when Pelangi – not her real name – was on her way to work. The low AC temperature and the crowded Transjakarta bus at the time triggered her asthma. Pelangi, then 29, fainted. But she did not get help, her weak moment was misused by four Transjakarta officers.

She then decided to report her incident to the authority, but instead she was framed by the local media. Her pink t-shirt and shorts made her labeled as an ‘indecent woman.’ In fact, she wore those clothes to brave through the massive flood that struck Jakarta. The law enforcement figure also did not side with her. She even received verbal abuse in court. Meanwhile, the harasser was only imprisoned for 18 months. The series of injustices created layers of trauma within Pelangi. She even had suicidal thoughts.

The law against sexual abuse in Indonesia is yet to have the capability to protect the victims. Many victims decided to remain silent because taking legal actions were often futile. Harder still, the legal process often invokes new trauma within the victims. The National Commission on Violence Against Women noted that sexual abuse against women has increased by 792% in the last 12 years. The numbers keep on increasing, while the Sexual Abuse Abolition Bill, which was designed to protect victims, family and witnesses, are still going in circle.

“Although I never got any legal justice, but I could finally reclaim my life,” wrote Pelangi on her social media. The loyalty of her partner, the support from activists, and the healing program from Pulih Foundation have guided Pelangi to rediscover colors of life. According to clinical psychologist Jackie Viemilawati, there are a few characteristics of healed post-traumatic growth patients, including finding ways out, improvements in physical and psychological strength, ability to find the silver lining, and ability to be in meaningful relationships.

But just like slice wounds might heal, yet scars remain. Psychologically, Pelangi has healed from the trauma. But the 2014 incident has triggered a latent impact. Two years after, Pelangi was diagnosed bipolar. Now, she regularly takes prescribed medicines to keep her emotions in check and help manage her relationship with her husband and child. By sharing her story, she hopes to be a rainbow to other sexual harassment victims. “Rainbow shines on others without hurting itself,” says Pelangi with a curved smile on her face.