Activists stage a rally outside the presidential palace in Jakarta in 2018 to demand better protection for women and children against sexual predators. (Photo: Konradus Epa/UCA News)
Police in Indonesia's West Sumatra province have arrested a man on suspicion of raping up to 30 young boys.
The 53-year-old man, named only as Yuhendri, was arrested in Pariaman, a city in the province’s Padang Pariaman district, on Feb. 23.
"Most of the victims were students aged 13-15. All of them were boys," Padang Pariaman Police Criminal Investigation Department chief Ardiansyah Rolindo Saputra told reporters on Feb. 24.
He said the arrest came following a complaint from a parent whose son said he was abused.
"The suspect is being held at Padang Pariaman district police station," Saputra said.
Saputra said the man admitted to inviting boys to fish at a river, plying them with alcohol and then raping them when they fell asleep.
The police chief said the suspect admitted to abusing up to 30 boys since 2017, but investigations would go back further because “we are sure there are other victims.”
Rita Pranawati, deputy chief of the Indonesian Child Protection Commission, expressed shock at the scale of the abuse.
“We are concerned because sexual violence cases against children is still occurring despite punishments getting heavier,” she said.
Last year Indonesian police arrested a suspected pedophile thought to have raped at least 30 boys in West Java province by luring them with the promise to teach them black magic.
The commission, Pranawati said, is working with local police so that the perpetrator in this latest case is swiftly dealt with.
Arist Sirait, head of the non-governmental National Commission for Child Protection, said cases like this need to be made public to make people aware of the problem and encourage more people to come forward.
“Local and national governments should work with religious leaders, activists and journalists on this issue, but when doing so the rights of the child must be protected,” he told UCA News.
Under Indonesian law, sexually abusing a child usually carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of about US$360.
However, Sirait said, in cases where there are multiple victims, harsher penalties should be imposed if authorities want to stamp out this “evil crime.”