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Case points to dangers facing Indonesian kids

Publication Date : 20-04-2014


In a criminal case that highlights the vulnerability of social media-savvy Indonesian children to sexual abuse, a man in Surabaya, East Java was arrested for allegedly persuading six children via Facebook to send him nude “selfies” and trying to sell them on various online sites, including a pedophile chat room.

National Police special economic crimes director Brig. Gen. Arief Sulistyanto said the suspect, Tjandra Adi Gunawan, 37, allegedly created a fake Facebook account to deceive victims. “He made a Facebook account pretending to be a female doctor who gave free sexual health consultations,” Arief told a press conference in Jakarta.

Using the fake identity, the suspect instructed the children to take pictures of their private parts. “He claimed that he could give guidance about the children’s reproductive system. To do that, he asked each child to take selfies of their naked bodies, close-ups of their genitals and even asked them to masturbate,” Arief continued.

Tjandra, who works as a manager at a Surabaya-based company and as a part-time lecturer, shared the pictures on popular online forum Kaskus, Facebook and a pedophile chat room. Two chat members, who apparently come from the United States and Germany, commented that they liked the photos and asked Tjandra to send more. “From the chat logs, there is a strong indication that the suspect attempted to sell the photos,” Arief said.

Four female elementary school students and one female and one male junior high school students fell prey to the persuasion of Tjandra. They all attend the same private school in Surabaya.

“The victims were embarrassed and refused to attend school after learning that the photos were distributed to Facebook accounts of parents and teachers,” he said, adding that the revelation initially sparked friction, with parents accusing teachers of taking the pictures.

The police launched an investigation after receiving a report from one of the victim’s parents on March 5. On March 24, a team of police officers arrested Tjandra and confiscated 10,236 pornographic pictures of children, including the six victims’ photos. It remains unclear how Tjandra obtained the remaining pictures.

Arief pointed out the possibility of more children falling victim to Tjandra’s crime.

Tjandra will be charged under multiple articles of the 2008 Pornography Law and the 2008 Electronic Information and Transactions Law, which carry maximum penalties of 12 years’ imprisonment and a 6-billion rupiah (US$522,000) fine. The penalty is increased by one-third when minors are involved in the crime.

Also at the press conference, Information and Communication Technology Watch (ICT Watch) cofounder Donny BU regretted the fact that parents of the four elementary school students had let their children set up Facebook accounts despite the requirement that users of the site must be at least 13 years old.

“Some parents give gadgets to their children without educating them about Internet safety. On the other hand, schools teach their students to find information on the Internet but do not remind them to be careful and not to chat with strangers online,” he said.

Donny said many Indonesian children had fallen victim to online sex crimes in recent years. Last year, there were at least four cases of children being abducted or raped by Facebook acquaintances. The most appalling case occurred in 2012, when a 14-year-old girl from Depok, West Java was held captive for a week and raped by a Facebook friend, Yugi, a public minivan driver.

For one week, the victim was forced to have sex with Yugi and other men under the influence of alcohol. It was alleged that Yugi had intended to sell the girl to a human trafficker in Batam, Riau Islands.

The United Nations and the US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) say that, at any given moment, there are 750,000 child predators connected to the Internet. Last year, Terre des Hommes, a Netherlands-based children’s rights organisation, carried out research using a virtual 10-year-old Filipino girl named Sweetie. Within just 10 weeks, more than 20,000 predators from countries across the world had asked Sweetie to perform sexual acts for them via webcam.

Indonesian media outlet, Tempo, carried out similar research using a virtual 10-year-old, Lisa, and attracted 75 predators within seven hours. According to Tempo, the predators came from various backgrounds — from students, businessmen, managers and employees to expatriates.



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