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Indonesia reports steep rise in child abuse

Government attributes the increase to abuses at home caused by Covid-19 lockdowns

Indonesia reports steep rise in child abuse

A vigil against sexual violence is held in West Manggarai district of Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province in 2018. (Photo supplied)

Child abuse in Indonesia has increased significantly over the last three years with many of the recorded cases being sexual in nature, according to the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection.

At least 12,556 cases occurred between January and November this year, a 13.56 percent increase on the 11,057 recorded cases in 2019, ministry secretary Pribudiarta Nur Sitepu told a livestreamed seminar on Dec. 8.

“Most cases involved sexual abuse, which was nearly 45 percent of the total number, followed by psychological and physical abuses. The rest included parental negligence, child trafficking and economic exploitation of children,” he said.

He said a similar trend was seen in abuses against women.    

The government aims to launch five initiatives next year to buck the trend. They include entrepreneurship programs for women, child education programs among mothers, the elimination of child labor and preventing child marriage.

Speaking with UCA News, Sitepu said public activity restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic contributed to an increase in child abuse cases in the home over the last two years.

Any such act is alarming and stresses the need to ensure that child protection is and remains a high government priority

“Such a policy causes social changes. Children used to study in school before the pandemic but have had to learn online at home. This also affects a child’s development,” he said.

“Abuses have occurred because parents cannot automatically replace the role teachers play.”

Putu Elvina from the Jakarta-based Indonesian Child Protection Commission said the high tally of sexual violence against children in Indonesia was "very concerning.”

“Any such act is alarming and stresses the need to ensure that child protection is and remains a high government priority,” she said.

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