Police chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo has pledged firm action against offending officers. (Photo: Indonesia police)
Activists have welcomed the dismissal of a senior Indonesian police officer who is facing a rape charge, saying it signals police will finally act against abusive officers and criminal elements from within their ranks.
Central Sulawesi police announced on Oct. 20 that a sub-district police chief in Parigi Moutong district was fired after a 20-year-old girl accused him of forcing her to have sex with him to win the release of her father who had been arrested for alleged theft.
Media reports say the policeman will be charged with raping the girl.
His dismissal comes days after national police chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo said that all police officers who committed crimes would face criminal charges.
Prabowo, a Christian, said firm action would set an example for other police officers.
"I ask that there are no regional unit heads who have doubts. If there is any doubt, I will take over. All police officers who bring the force into disrepute must be dealt with firmly," he said this week.
This gives hope for us as activists, and especially the victims, to have the courage to report sexual violence
Indonesian police have come under increased criticism in recent weeks over how they deal with sex cases, sparked by a media report on alleged police inaction in a child sex abuse case involving a civil servant and his three children.
It prompted people to flood social media with stories of police inaction and apathy regarding other sex crimes.
Sister Maria Yosephina Pahlawati of the Congregation of Servants of the Holy Spirit, who runs an advisory service for female victims of violence in Flores and for the past decade has handled cases of violence against women, hailed the latest police move.
“This gives hope for us as activists, and especially the victims, to have the courage to report sexual violence,” she said.
She said the police also needed to be equipped with adequate knowledge regarding how to respond to reports of cases of sexual violence.
"My experience is that they lack such knowledge, especially regarding the way they treat victims, which actually must be different from victims in other cases," she added.
Rivanlee Ananda, a researcher from the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, hoped the police move in Central Sulawesi would not be a token gesture.
He noted that of 814 recorded cases of violence committed by police from the start of 2020 to September this year, 90 percent were not followed up.
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