Romance scam cases in Indonesia remain increasing in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. A lecturer at the UGM Faculty of Law and Chair of the UGM Center for Law, Gender, and Society Studies, Sri Wiyanti Edyyono, S.H., LL.M., said this because it has happened in recent months. This condition has brought their confidence in using the internet frequently. Thus, the occurrence of social distancing in the middle of a pandemic leads them into boredom. Not a few people then begin to find a way to get a solution, one of which is to talk and meet through the internet. However, the rampant romance scam cases have left them vulnerable.
"Romance scam is not a new case. It is not too familiar because there are only a few cases reported," she said in the Webinar Series: Love Scam held by the UGM Center for Women's Studies (PSW), Saturday (6/3).
However, there are still some unreported cases. There are some considerations why victims prefer not to report their cases. It is because they assume it is embarrassing and might risk their dignity. Besides, they are also afraid that people will blame them.
"They are afraid that people will make these cases as joke materials. Then later, people will make it as public consumption instead of considering it as something serious to precede to the law enforcement officer," she said.
In addition to that, the level of romance scam prevention in this country is still poor. Law enforcement in this country is inconsistent, unsustainable supervision, and incomplete data problems become the victim's indecision in reporting the case. Furthermore, the strong cultural stereotype of sexuality in this country has led the victims to hesitate to report their cases.
Wiyanti added that there could be some efforts to prevent this case, such as strengthening the regulations, digital literacy in women, promotion of protection, complaint mechanisms, changes in regulations, etc.
"This should be included in the issue of the Draft Bill on the Elimination of Sexual Violence, and there should be a new legal regulation to cover it because if we still refer to the existing regulations, there will be no improvement at all," she explained.
Simultaneously, the lecturer of Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (FISIP) at UIN Walisongo Semarang, Nur Hasyim, M.A., a gender observer, said that a romance scam is considered violence because it contains elements of coercion of the volition, manipulation, and exploitation. Sexual abuse that happened to the romance scam victims could interfere with their mental health, such as anxiety, stress, and even depression. Nur Hasim also revealed that romance scam cases could happen to anyone. Still, women, especially widows, have a higher risk of becoming romance scam victims.
"Traditional gender norms also make them vulnerable to being romance scam victims," he explained.