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Indonesian judge in hot water for suggesting rape victims enjoy it

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 10:20 PM EST, Wed January 16, 2013
(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.

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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.

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"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.

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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.

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