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Child abuse cases reach record high in Indonesia

Publication Date : 20-02-2013


An 18-year-old girl from Ciracas, East Jakarta, has been systematically raped by her biological father since she was 13 and now is one-and-a-half-months pregnant.

It took five years for the girl to summon up the courage to tell her grandfather and file a report with police.

“The father admitted that he had raped his daughter some 60 times over the past five years,” National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA) chairman Arist Merdeka Sirait said on Tuesday during a hearing with the city administration at City Hall.

The commission plans to transfer the girl from her house to a shelter for victims of abuse.

What has happened to this girl may call to mind a similar tragedy, where an 11-year-old girl from Cakung, East Jakarta, was allegedly raped by her biological father on October 16 and 19 last year in their home.

The rapes allegedly took place at home while the mother was in hospital receiving treatment for cancer.

The girl died last month after being in a coma for over a week. Her father is the prime suspect.

These two horrific incidents are only the tip of the iceberg.

In Greater Jakarta last year, 2,637 child abuse cases were reported -1,075 of these cases incorporate some sexual dimension.

In Depok, police have arrested a 38-year-old man for allegedly molesting at least 15 boys living around his neighbourhood in the Melati sector of the Kota Kembang housing complex in Jatimulya subdistrict, Cilodong.

Depok Police deputy detective chief Adj. Comr. Purwadi said police made the arrest on Sunday after a report from one of the victim’s parents.

The boys, who were almost all under 9 years old, remained silent because they were afraid, he said.

The suspect would apparently allow boys to take things from his stall without paying. In return, he asked the boys to come back to his home where they watched adult films or played pornographic games on his cell phone.

Some of the boys did not resist at all when the suspect took off their clothes and molested them because they were not aware that what he was doing was wrong.

“We arrested him as he was trying to escape when [suspicious] neighbours came to his house,” Purwadi said.

Arist said Komnas PA found that around 80 per cent of child sexual abuse was conducted by people who had close personal relationships with the children concerned. These include relatives, biological parents, step-parents, neighbours and teachers.

Arist said the high number of such cases can be attributed to a common belief that child abuse was an internal, domestic problem, and only the concern of the family involved. Neighbours and others who may be aware, or have suspicions, of a situation tend to look the other way.

“For example, how is it possible that the girl could be raped for five years, and her mother, relatives and neighbours know nothing about the matter?” he said.

Arist believes that the police have not done much for these cases either, with more than half of the cases failing to even reach the courts, with the law enforcement agencies complaining of a lack of hard evidence. Only 18 pe rcent of the cases that made through to court were ever resolved, he added.

He said poverty was a factor in the high number of child abuse cases. Mothers are often afraid to lose the breadwinner if they report their husbands to police for sexual violence.

“Over 80 per cent of the child abuse cases occur in the lower strata of society,” he said.

The tragic rapes cited above both concern girls growing up in slums.

But psychologist Ratih Andjayani disagreed, declaring: “It happens in every level of society.”

“People need to realise that sexual violence is a very serious crime, and those committing it must be severely punished, both legally and socially,” she said.


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