The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Law enforcers should consider the victim's perspective when handling child sexual abuse cases, an official said recently.
Budhy Prabowo from the child protection division of the State Ministry for Women's Empowerment criticized police and judges for viewing such crimes as common and handling them in relation to the Criminal Code rather than the 2002 Child Protection Law.
"We have long urged police and judges to use the Child Protection Law rather than the Code when dealing with child sexual abuse cases because it carries heavier penalties," Budhy told The Jakarta Post in response to a sexual abuse claim involving a a 12-year-old girl last week.
Police arrested a man identified as Deka, 21, on Sunday for allegedly having sexual relations with the teenage girl from Tanah Sareal in West Jakarta.
Deka took the victim out to celebrate New Year's Eve without the permission of her parents, head of the mobile reserve unit Adj. Sr. Comr. R.C. Gumay said, adding that the arrest was made following a report from the girl's parents.
"Deka held her for four days in Bogor and Depok. Our investigations have indicated that they were a couple and the sexual acts were consensual," he told reporters Monday.
Gumay said Deka was accused of violating articles 330 and 332 of the Criminal Code, which relate to taking an underage child out without the permission of his or her parents, and he could receive a sentence of up to seven years in jail.
However, Budhy said any sexual conduct involving children was considered to be a violation of the Child Protection Law, which carries a maximum jail term of 15 years and a Rp 300 million (US$ 31,800) fine.
"Twelve-year-old girls like the victim often become the target of manipulation and can easily be seduced into having sex. This is something that the police should be aware of," he said.
Budhy said the girl would need counseling as the incident could affect her mental development in the long term, but Comr. Siswono from the mobile reserve unit said police did not have such a plan.
"The girl might look okay, but no one knows how she feels and how the incident may affect her in the future," Budhy said.
He said when it comes to such cases, it is hard for activists to convince law enforcers to consider cases from the child's perspective.
He said judges often consider themselves to be independent and are not easily influenced.
"As a result, they keep referring to the Code as they always have," he said.
In September last year, a closed trial at the East Jakarta District Court found a teacher guilty of having sex with a 14-year-old girl.
The court sentenced the defendant to seven years in jail and fined him Rp 50 million for having sex with a minor.
Sri Nurherwati from the Legal Aid Institute of the Indonesian Women's Association for Justice said the harsh judgment was the first of its kind to adequately deter sexual predators. (dia)