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Indonesian policemen face sexual harassment probe

Arrested Papuan student claims two officers tried to force her to have sex with them while in custody

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Indonesian policemen face sexual harassment probe

Indonesian police follow protesters in a truck during a Jakarta protest by mostly university students from the Free Papua Organization in December 2016. Two Indonesian policemen are under investigation for trying to force a detained Papuan student into having sex with them. (Photo: Bay Ismoyo/AFP)  

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Two Indonesian policemen could face disciplinary action after being accused of trying to force a detained university student in Papua into having sex with them.

The student in question has been kept in police detention for the past several months in the provincial capital Jayapura.

Rights groups reported the allegations to the Papua police’s internal affairs division on Dec. 4, calling for an immediate investigation.

The allegations came to light during visits the woman received from representatives of several rights groups.  

“It happened twice at the Papua Regional Police Detention Center. The police officers tried to force her to have sex, but she fought back,” rights activist Emanuel Gobay said.

The first incident occurred on Nov. 14 when one police officer asked her four times to have sex with him while she was crying in a visitation room, he said.

The second occurred on Dec. 2 when another officer came to her cell in the early hours, initially to ask about some personal questions but eventually demanding she have sex with him.

“She screamed to wake up other prisoners,” said Gobay, who is also a lawyer.

He said the student has been detained since Oct. 11 in connection with rioting in Papua on Sept. 23 that killed more than 30 people.

Gobay said she was accused of stirring unrest that triggered the burning of houses, shops and public facilities.

As well as the sexual advances, Gobay claimed that she has also suffered physical and verbal abuse while in detention.

“She has been called a savage, bastard, pig, dog, threatened with death and beaten," Gobay said.

Wehelmina Morin, another lawyer, said the victim had asked to be moved to another detention center to avoid further abuse.

"We conveyed this request directly to the Papua police on Dec. 5 when we were summoned to file supporting evidence for the complaint case,” she told ucanews.

She also said the police’s profession and internal security division was due to interview the woman about the allegations against police officers on Dec. 6

Papua police chief Paulus Waterpauw confirmed that two police officers were under investigation.

“[The officers] are being dealt with by internal affairs,” he told the The Jakarta Post. “We will process these deplorable human beings.”

Earlier, Bernard Koten from the Papua office of the Franciscan Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation said the case seems to add to a list of inhumane acts against Papuans.

"I hope the police can pursue this professionally so that the law does not continue to appear only harsh toward Papuans," he said. 

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