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Indonesia records sharp rise in child abuse cases

Children's protection agency attributes the increase to lax laws, Covid-19 lockdowns

Indonesia records sharp rise in child abuse cases

Rita Pranawati of the Indonesian Child Protection Commission has urged the Indonesian government to review child protection laws. (Photo: Indonesian Child Protection Commission)

Violence and other rights abuses committed against children in Indonesia rose sharply last year with more than 6,000 recorded cases, according to a government agency set up to protect child rights.

At least 6,519 cases of violence and exploitation occurred during 2020, a 49 percent increase on the 4,369 recorded cases in 2019, the Indonesian Child Protection Commission said. 

In its annual report, the commission said abuses committed against children included physical and psychological violence, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

Some 1,622 cases involved physical violence against children, while sexual abuse accounted for at least 651 cases, the report said.

“The disturbing increase shows that child protection laws in Indonesia are not having the desired effect and that tougher laws and enforcement are needed,” Rita Pranawati, the deputy commission chief, told UCA News.

She attributed the dramatic increase in abuses to effects brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Social restrictions and lockdowns have seen families spending more time at home together and children spending more time on the internet.

Better protection from cyber-based abuses, domestic violence and the fallout from parental conflict or divorce must be prioritized, she said. 

Pranawati said the figures were based on an analysis of figures provided from advocacy groups as well as complaints filed with authorities by families and concerned member of the public.

She said abuses resulting from online activities need special attention.

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"It’s vital that the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection and other agencies educate parents and children on dangers online, especially with regard to sexual predators and other criminal activity," she said.

Carmelite Father Aegidius Eko Aldilanta, executive secretary of the Indonesian bishops’ Justice and Peace Commission, said the Church believes that toughening laws is only one aspect in improving child protection. 

“Abuses against children will not be solved by the law alone. Family members are important as they can also educate children on how to avoid exploitation,” he told UCA News.

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