I asked this question in law Stack Exchange

Basically, rather than simply prohibiting all sex with anyone under 18, the laws prohibit

Every one who deliberately commits violence, or threat of violence, forces, does tricks, tells a series of lies, or persuades a child to do, or let obscene acts be done, is subject to penalty of 15 (fifteen) years at most and 3 (three) years at least and fine of Rp. 300.000.000 (three hundreds millions) at most and Rp. 60.000.000 at least.

Notice that there is some penalty of 3 years minimum. For comparison, murder in Indonesia doesn't have minimum penalty and is usually sentenced to 10 years.

The law is strange because it contains phrases that suggest non consensual activities but then followed by consensual "persuades".

If my understanding is correct, basically, anyone that say, grope the breast of a 17 years old girl is subject to a minimum of 3 years sentence irrelevant of consent while anyone else that murder that girl may get say 10 years in prison. So it's kind of weird.

The phrase prohibiting persuade there means consent doesn't matter.

In fact, some expatriates express the confusion by stating

"The exploitation" and "persuasion" angle is not very clear to me. So sex with a girl above 15 is legal unless you "exploit" or "persuade" her to do so. Can anyone shows actual court cases?

It seems that actual court cases for this sort of thing is very few. https://www.livinginindonesiaforum.org/forum/general/laws-visas-money-matters-and-documents/52502-age-of-consent

How can anyone have sex with anyone else without persuasion (or coercion, or tricking?). Does whoever create the law want to prohibit all sex with anyone below 18 or there are some such sex that's legal?

If they want to prohibit all sex with anyone below 18, then why don't they just say, all lewd acts with anyone under 18 is prohibited?

A bit of background: Many people in Indonesia, are married young. Most marriage is informal. So they're not legally married but they hire some religious leader to marry them. That is between 15-18. Also many massage therapists, LC, or even sex workers are below 18. However, enforcement for this law is very rare. I cannot easily find court cases, nor do I know how to.

I am not interested in having sex with anyone under 18. I am just curious why the law is written in such ways.

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    Which law are you referring to specifically? The Google Translate link in your Law.SE answer lists two articles 76D and 76E. The first seems to prohibit intercourse directly, the second one seems to describe a number of other acts leading to obscene acts. I'm not sure I understand why you say the language is unnecessarily complex. As for the 'persuade' part, isn't that already explained by hyper-neutrino's answer on Law.SE? – JJJ Jun 21 at 17:59
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    Also, perhaps the meaning is not exactly the same that you understand, more so if you are working on a translation (I am willing to bet that Indonesia does not redact its laws in English). For example, in old Spanish "to seduce a woman" actually meant "raping her"; perhaps "persuading" is more akin to "pressuring" or "buying". – SJuan76 Jun 21 at 18:11
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    In any case, I am not sure if either those expats are showing a healthy interest in the legal system of their country or residence, or an unhealthy interest sex with underage persons. – SJuan76 Jun 21 at 18:12
  • Let me check. As far as I know no laws prohibit all lewd acts directly. The reason I ask is it is very possible the legislators make the laws very unclear so that judges and cops can have leeway to enforce depending on bribes – obfuscated Jun 22 at 1:36
  • Articles 76D does not prohibit all lewd acts directly. That article prohibit "Kekerasan atau ancaman Kekerasan memaksa". In english that means "violent, or threat of violent, forcing". Curiously, similar phrases are repeated phrase by phrase in 76E. So, 76E is more comprehensive. This look weird to me. – obfuscated Jun 22 at 2:11

Couple of things. First, generally speaking, laws come in two flavors: overly specific, and overly vague. It's a matter of what kind of error you want to commit.

If your law is overly specific, then cases you might have wanted it to include will slip through the law - essentially some people you'd like to be 'guilty' will instead escape justice. On the other hand, there's far less wiggle room for bureaucrats, judges, or other agents of enforcement, to apply their own values. Absent a formal, legal definition of "lewd act," banning "lewd acts" could be interpreted by different people in all sorts of unintended ways.

This is the problem when you have laws that are too vague. They're able to capture cases that you could never have even imagined, but now you're essentially kicking the can down to the bureaucracy to figure out.

In the comments you state "As far as I know, no laws prohibit all lewd acts directly." Which means that there is almost certainly no legal definition for 'lewd act.' If you want to bring a specific set of behaviors under this statute, therefor, you need to define it.

As to this line in your question:

The phrase prohibiting persuade there means consent doesn't matter.

I'm not sure about Indonesian jurisprudence, but elsewhere broadly in the world it is understood that children are incapable of meaningful consent - especially when their interests are potentially at-odds to those of an adult. This is a legal standard roughly equivalent to the playground adage, "Pick on someone your own size." Until the age of roughly 25, a human being is not yet in possession of a fully developed brain. Children are held in bondage by their parents precisely because they are not mature, experienced, or well enough equipped to make choices that require full possession of facts and consideration of possible consequences. They are also, therefore, in a subjugated relationship with adults - creating a massive power imbalance whenever child/adult interactions are taking place.

To restate, because it's extremely important: children cannot consent. So this reads less like a prohibition against consent, and more a prohibition against trying to create an illusion of consent; which is precisely the legal defense used by a huge swath of people who sexually assault/abuse children.

  • Can you also explain why the penalty is almost the same with murder? So consensually groping a 17 years old have the same penalty with murdering that same 17 years old. Is this really the political reasons for this sort of laws? Or is it there to help cops get bribes from defendants? – obfuscated Jun 22 at 15:46
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    This comes down to cultural values, and goes beyond politics and into social psychology and anthropology. You're basically asking, "why do some people think rape is worse than murder?" That's beyond my scholarship. – William Walker III Jun 22 at 15:49
  • I know. I am just suspicious that they deliberately make vague laws so cops got bribes. So it's not really anthropology. More like rational decision making which is well within the realm of politic. The more vague the laws, the more power to their friends in judicative. – obfuscated Jun 22 at 22:23
  • I think like drug laws the laws are not there to be obeyed but to help cops and judges to blackmail or extort rich people or something along that. As I said in the questions, some sex workers and massage therapists are 17 and no body cares because the owner pay cops – obfuscated Jun 22 at 22:26
  • Statements like "Nobody cares" are obviously not true. But it may be the case that corrupt officials are not implementing laws. This is common, but is not a statement about the law itself, nor does it necessarily reflect the intent behind the law. Governments are not monoliths, one person may try something in good faith and another person confound their efforts by doing something else entirely. That's just the reality of large numbers of people. – William Walker III Jun 23 at 11:22

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