CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 June 2019

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Outrage in Indonesia over sex abuse case

JAKARTA (UCAN): Politicians and Church activists in Indonesia have demanded justice after an 18-year-old mentally disadvantaged girl was allegedly treated as a sex slave by her father and two brothers. Reports of the crime shocked the nation.
 
Police arrested the trio in the third week of February after complaints by worried neighbours who 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 the condition the girl.
 
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.
 
During questioning, all three—the father and brothers—who were also not named for legal reasons, admitted to raping the victim hundreds of times, police said.
 
The minister for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, 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 February 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 issued last year by the National Commission on Violence against Women, there were at least 1,210 reported cases of sexual abuse committed by family members in 2017.
 
Holy Spirit Sister Eusthocia Monika Nata, chairperson of 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,” she said.
 
The trauma could prevent her testifying against her father and her brothers, the nun said.
 
The important thing is that she receives specialised 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 seeks 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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