Sat, 12 Apr 2003

Models complain of voyeurism

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The modest house on Jl. Asem Baris Raya in South Jakarta may not look particularly impressive, but it is in the center of a tale that has grabbed the nation's attention with its combination of sex and celebrities.

The house is actually a well-known photo studio that specializes in print advertisement shoots, and allegedly the location were secret videos were taken of models as they went through wardrobe changes.

The Budi Han photo studio was quiet on Friday, with its owner, Budi Han, and his assistants now being detained at the Jakarta Police Headquarters. They have been charged with distributing nude photos of seven models, including Rachel Maryam, Femmy Permatasari, Sarah Azhari and Shanty.

According to the models, the crime took place in 1997, when most of them were still teenagers struggling to break into the entertainment industry. They claim they were sent to the photo studio to shoot print advertisements for various food and beverage products.

"While I was changing my clothes in the studio's bathroom -- where I thought it was only me and the wardrobe lady -- someone else was taking photos without my knowledge or my approval," model/actress Rachel said.

According to the police, the footage was taken through a two- way mirror in the bathroom, which also functioned as a changing room. The mirror was reportedly removed when the room was renovated in 2002.

Sinetron (TV soap opera) actress Femmy, during a media conference late last month, called the secret filming of her a "barbaric act". The footage of the models has been widely distributed through video compact discs (VCD) and the Internet.

The women reported the case to the police in the middle of March, after the images hit the illegal VCD market in Glodok, West Jakarta. In their complaint, the women said the footage could severely affect their careers and private lives.

Legal expert and human rights activist Nursyahbani Katjasungkana of the Coalition of Indonesian Women said this was the first case of its kind to grab the public's attention, so the police should make it an example in a campaign to end violence against women.

"Pornography is one form of violence against women because the object (of pornography) is always women and their bodies. I hope the police can slap heavy charges on the suspects and stop this sort of crime altogether," Nursyahbani told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

The police detained six suspects in the case on April 6. The six were Budi Han and his assistants Benhur Karjaya and Kodin bin Walid, Benny Gunardi Ginting, an employee of AIM Advertising, and VCD distributors Antonius, Muso and Rudy Hartono.

Budi Han has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence, saying he was unaware the footage had been taken. The police, however, have confronted him with a statement from Suparno, a former assistant at the studio, who said that Budi Han did know of the crime.

Budi Han and the other suspects have been charged with violating Article 282 of the Criminal Code on disseminating indecent information or pictures, which carries a maximum punishment of two years and eight months in prison.

The police also have charged the suspects under Article 283 of the Criminal Code, which states that if the violation of Article 282 is related to the offender's profession then the offender can be banned from that profession.

Over the course of the investigation, the police added another charge against the suspects, this one for violating Article 40 of Law No. 8/1992 on the movie industry, which deals with disseminating, exporting or showing footage that does not pass the censor board.

The article carries a more severe maximum punishment of five years in jail plus a Rp 50 million (about US$5,600) fine.

Nursyahbani and another legal expert, Harkristuti Harkrisnowo, said the charges were too light.

"It's not the distribution of the footage that matters, but that these photos were taken. The police can charge the suspects with theft or charge them under the adaptable article on antisocial behavior," Harkristuti said.

Nursyahbani, who is offering informal legal advice to Femmy, said she would suggest that the models also file a civil suit against the suspects in order to win monetary compensation for their suffering.