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Law and Justice  

by on Friday, 25 January 2008No Comment | 1,393 views

For Balinese the local customary law, or Awig-awig, is more revered and feared than the official Indonesian law, or hukum since it has a strong root in tradition. Having an awig-awig in order to live peacefully is compulsory for the Balinese. They consider it as a rule of a game in human interaction. Each village in Bali has its own awig-awig and can be totally different from the neighboring villlages’ awig-awig. This customary law manifests the uniqueness of each village and the serves as a village identity.

The awig-awig is created in a forum of village membes (pesangkepan). This forum discuss all aspects of this customary, each rule is examined carefully and debated vigorously, so the rule can accommodate the interests of all village members. This traditional customary law is reviewed every year and if necessary a forum of village members (pesangkepan) will be held for an awig-awig amendment. The awig-awig is written in palm manuscript and given a special offering to invest a magical power to it so the village members will obey the rules written on it.

Violation to the awig-awig can be punished with various punishment depends on the degree of violation. Light faults bring automatic fine (danda), the confiscation of property and temporary suspension from the society. Punishments for major offences range from the dreaded boycott from all village activity to permanent exile, total banishment from the society (kasepekang). A man expelled from his village cannot be admitted in another community, so he becomes a total out-caste, a punishment greater than physical death to the Balinese mind. In Bali, moral sanctions carry greater weight than physical punishments.

For extremely serious offences that will seriously impair the well being of the village and weaken the village holiness such as arson, temple vandalism, theft from the god, running amuck, rape and murder, some of which may be punished by killing the offender on the spot.

Consistent failure to perform the village duties is a special case; each village has its own approach to punish this offence. Some villages will punish the offender with heavy fine. Other villages impose no punishment but wait for a perfect time to perform a community revenge. The community revenge is usually conducted at the cremation ceremony of the offender or his family. The member of the village will handle the offender’s corpse or the corpse of his family member improperly, by dragging the corpse on the road to the cemetery, throwing the corpse into the roadside ditch, or neglecting the corpse in the middle of the way to the cemetery. For the Balinese this community revenge is far more feared than the heavy fine. Balinese always pay the fine for their offences with a great relieve, at least they can pay their misconduct. And reduce the possibility of having a community revenge.

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