In a horrific act of domestic violence, an Indonesian husband is reported to have used a machete to cut off his wife’s feet. At their home in the village of Canggu on the south coast of Bali, Indonesia, 33-year-old Kadek Adi Waisaka Putra is alleged to have carried out the vicious and sustained attack on his wife, 33-year-old Putu Careen, before showing some remorse and taking her to the local hospital for treatment. Putra thought his wife was having an affair, and his punishment for her was grotesque mutilation carried out in front of their two children who are just 13 and 9 years old. Kadek Adi Waisaka Putra has been held in custody and is due to undergo a psychiatric assessment before decisions are made on how he will be dealt with.
The Seminyak Times, the local news outlet for Canggu, reported the statement given by the Head of the Bali Police Public Relations, Hengky Widhaha. “The motive of the perpetrator is allegedly jealousy, the evidence is secured with the machete and the victim’s foot slice, and the perpetrator has been secured. The investigation continues,” he said.
This shocking level of violence from a husband to his wife is, it is hoped, an extreme and rare case, however, the rates of violence against women and violent attacks carried out by husbands against their wives within the country is high. Violence within the home is a taboo subject in Indonesia. It is not openly discussed nor are there many avenues open for women suffering domestic violence to get help and support. According to Unicef Indonesia, 48% of women reported in a survey in 2015 that “domestic violence is justifiable”.
In many cases domestic violence is considered a private matter and women who do report attacks by their husband or partner is expected, and often simply told, to return home and ‘make peace’ according to one survivor in a report in ABC News Australia. The same report highlights how the Indonesian government does not make it easy for women entrapped in violent relationships to get help, with the government keeping only basic records of attacks against women and no records at all of women who have been murdered by their husbands within the country.
Results from a survey carried out in 2006 on violence against women and children in Indonesia found humiliation and persecution to be the most common type of violence experienced with 68% of women enduring this violence within their home. In 55% of the violence reported, the perpetrator was their husband and 55% of women who were interviewed for the survey did not report the violence they suffered. Those who did most often told family members, with just 2% reporting attacks to the police.
More recent data from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta comes from a nationwide survey carried out this year, revealing that 33% of women had experienced violence within their lifetime, reports the Jakarta Post. The United Nationals Population Fund (UNFPA) who assisted in the survey commissioned by Indonesia’s Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry reported more detailed results, highlighting the 9000 households which were surveyed and revealing two in five Indonesian women have experienced at least one of the four types of violence looked at; physical, sexual, emotional and economic. “The data are sobering. It shows that violence against women happens around us,” said Dr. Annette Sachs Robertson, the UNFPA representative in Indonesia.
This heinous case in Bali is reported to have been carried out in front of the couple’s two children, who may end up being called as witnesses to testify against their father for the attack on their mother. The Indonesian criminal justice system is complex, headed by the Supreme Court with four different court systems operating below it. This includes religious courts which often deal with disputes in marriages and divorce with their decisions based firmly on Islamic law. The death penalty in Indonesia is carried out by firing squad and is very rarely imposed, generally reserved for crimes such as treason, drug trafficking, and terrorism, although it was imposed for three individuals involved in the Bali bombing of 2002. Life imprisonment, local detention, and criminal fines are other options available for punishment through the courts.
The Jakarta Globe reported a case in 2012 that took place in the city of Ambon within the Maluku province of Indonesia, highlighting how obtaining justice and punishment for the perpretator of domestic violence can be difficult. A woman named Santi was doused in petrol and set on fire by her husband in 2003. A crime for which he was arrested and held in custody, but released three months later without charge. “The police let him go, saying there weren’t any witnesses to prove there was a crime,” she said. “He picked up a plastic bucket when I was still burning and he put it over my head and held it there. The plastic melted all over my face. He wanted me to die. Of course he wasn’t going to kill me in front of witnesses,” she continued.
Putu Careen is now reported to be recovering in hospital and has the support of her employer, Australian man Rohan Lee who now lives in Canggu, and employs Putu as his housekeeper. He was so appalled by the attack he started a Go Fund Me page for Putu in order to ensure she gets the medical care and rehabilitation she needs. Talking of the attack he says, “This is one of the most vile and vindictive acts of violence I’ve ever witnessed, the worst part is that in Indonesia there is limited welfare or government assistance for medical treatment of this kind.”
He has so far raised almost $68,000 to pay for medical expenses and accommodation for Putu and her two children. =While she recovers and tries to rebuild her life, it can only be hoped that her husband, the man who carried out this brutal attack, will receive severe punishment through the Indonesian courts for his actions sending a strong message that domestic violence cannot be tolerated.