Sex abuse case in Indonesia sparks outrage

Calls for severe punishment, law change after mentally handicapped girl allegedly abused by dad, brothers
Sex abuse case in Indonesia sparks outrage

Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Yohana Yembise has called for the abusers of a mentally handicapped teenage girl to be severely punished. (Photo supplied)


Politicians and church activists in Indonesia have demanded justice after an 18-year-old mentally disabled girl was allegedly treated as a sex slave by her father and two brothers.

The alleged abuse took place over the course of more than a year in the village of Panggungrejo in Lampung province in Sumatra, police said.

Police arrested the trio last week after a complaint by worried neighbors.

They had grown suspicious that the girl — who has not been named — was being abused after noticing a deterioration in her appearance since the death of her mother more than a year before. Police also did not reveal what condition the girl was suffering from.

During questioning all three, who were also not named for legal reasons, admitted to raping the victim hundreds of times, police said.

Reports of the alleged crime shocked the nation.

Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Yohana Yembise praised police for their swift action in arresting the suspects.

“They need to be punished severely and taught the error of their ways,” she told journalists on Feb. 25.

She called for law enforcement officers and society in general, including religious leaders, to play a significant role in trying to prevent sexual abuse committed by family members. 

“A zero tolerance policy is needed. Never see an incest case as a private issue, which should be dealt with only within a family,” Yembise said.

“Society needs to care more for others and to uphold the law so that perpetrators can be severely punished,” she added.

According to a report by the National Commission on Violence against Women issued last year, there were at least 1,210 reported cases of sexual abuse committed by family members in 2017.

Holy Spirit Sister Eusthocia Monika Nata, who chairs the Women’s Division of the Volunteer Team for Humanity on Flores, said she feared the victim might never recover. 

“I believe she suffering serious psychological trauma because it was her own father and brothers who supposedly did this.”

The trauma could prevent her testifying against her father and her brothers, said the nun.

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The important thing is that she receives specialized psychological care, she added. 

Indriyani Suparno from the National Commission on Violence against Women said the case should prompt legislators to pass an anti-sexual violence bill pending in parliament.

The bill looks to outlaw forms of sexual violence not covered by existing legislation and encourage women to report crimes.

The ministry and legislators are looking to see the bill become law before presidential elections in April.

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