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Indonesia

Indonesian NGO urges harsher sentences for child abusers

Statement in wake of scandal at Jakarta International School

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Indonesian NGO urges harsher sentences for child abusers
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A coalition of Indonesian non-governmental organizations is calling for harsher sentences for child abusers in the wake of a sex abuse scandal at a Jakarta school.

Current guidelines call for sentences of three to 15 years for those convicted of abusing children.

"A just punishment should be at least 20 years in prison or a life imprisonment. Why? It's because victims face a very heavy burden, both psychologically and socially. They suffer their whole lives," said Arist Merdeka Sirait, chairman of the National Commission for the Protection of Children.

"This sentence is too light and doesn't have deterrent effect on perpetrators. Thus, we urge legislators to revise the law. We'll submit this appeal in near future," Sirait told ucanews.com on Tuesday.

Since the alleged sexual assaults by two janitors on a six-year-old student occurred in February and March at the Jakarta International School, police are investigating the possibility of further incidents at the school, the Jakarta Globe reported.

A petition circulated on the change.org website, calling for harsher sentences for child abusers, has gained more than 68,000 supporters.

Fellma Panjaitan, a civil servant who circulated the petition, said she hoped longer prison sentences might serve as a deterrent to future crimes.

"As parents, we don't want this to happen to our children. So I call for parents and friends to take part in this petition, aiming to revise the law and hand out heavier punishment to those involved in child sexual abuse," she said.

The National Commission for the Protection of Children has reported 239 cases of violence against children this year, with 124 sexual abuse cases. Last year, the commission reported 3,339 cases of violence against children, including 1,937 cases of sexual abuse.

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