SEBASTIAN PARTOGI | THE JAKARTA POST | Jakarta | Tue, January 24, 2017 | 11:19 am

Sexual violence against women is an epidemic in Indonesia, as in many other parts of the globe, borne out of an ancient yet enduring patriarchal social system embodying the objectification of women’s bodies as one of its main characteristics.

Data from the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) revealed that 16,217 cases of sexual violence occurred across the nation throughout 2016, a steep increase from 11,207 cases recorded in 2015.

As always, these statistics show only a tip-of-the iceberg phenomenon. A survey conducted by support group for victims of sexual violence Lentera Sintas Indonesia, local feminist magazine Magdalene and online petition website change.org revealed last year that more than 90 percent of rape cases in Indonesia went unreported, highlighting the country’s “deafening silence” around sexual violence as victims fear being blamed.

The desire to break the culture of silence surrounding sexual violence seems to be the driving force behind HUSH, a film co-directed by two award-winning Southeast Asian directors; Djenar Maesa Ayu from Indonesia and Kan Lumé from Singapore. They have been well-known for their unconventional aesthetics exploring the dynamics of the human psyche, connecting them with broader socio-cultural contexts.

The film’s tagline, “speak your silence, and make them listen!” seems to say it all: it seeks to turn the volume on the discourse on the issue of sexual violence up a few notches, grabbing its audience by the throat.

The volume is turned up right from the start. The “mockumentary”, fictitious events presented in a documentary style, bombards the audience with a montage of random media clippings, television report footage and recordings of voice-overs delivering the news on sexual violence.

Graphic images as well as headings of media reports on victims of brutal sexual assaults across Indonesia pop up along the way. With the montages, the directors seem intent on waking people up to the horror of sexual abuse.

The film continues to blur the line between fact and fiction as it moves abruptly to present one-on-one interviews with a singer named Cinta (Cinta Ramlan), evoking scenes often presented in documentaries.

She is about ready to embark on a flight to Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), to seek solace from a heartbreaking and painful experience in Jakarta, where she attempted to strike gold as a musician and songwriter.

By suggesting that psychological trauma is untraceable on an individual’s façade, during the first part of the film, we can see the energetic, enthusiastic and full-of-life female singer describing why Lombok is such a fantastic place to have fun, as opposed to the mind-numbing city of Jakarta.

After the vacation in Lombok, she returns to her hometown in Bali. In real life, Cinta Ramlan is also a singer who lives in Bali.

Graphic images as well as headings of media reports on victims of brutal sexual assaults across Indonesia pop up along the way. With the montages, the directors seem intent on waking people up to the horror of sexual abuse.

The film continues to blur the line between fact and fiction as it moves abruptly to present one-on-one interviews with a singer named Cinta (Cinta Ramlan), evoking scenes often presented in documentaries.

She is about ready to embark on a flight to Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), to seek solace from a heartbreaking and painful experience in Jakarta, where she attempted to strike gold as a musician and songwriter.

By suggesting that psychological trauma is untraceable on an individual’s façade, during the first part of the film, we can see the energetic, enthusiastic and full-of-life female singer describing why Lombok is such a fantastic place to have fun, as opposed to the mind-numbing city of Jakarta.

After the vacation in Lombok, she returns to her hometown in Bali. In real life, Cinta Ramlan is also a singer who lives in Bali.