Jakarta toughens sex crime stance

The fate of a Sumatran child has reinforced demands for legal changes. Source: Wikimedia

Indonesian MPs have voted to allow strict punishments against convicted paedophiles, including chemical castration, 10-year minimum prison sentences and execution. President Joko Widodo proposed the changes.

The Indonesian Doctors’ Association has said the sanctions violated members’ professional ethics. Repeat offenders face at least 10 years in jail while judges will have the power to tag repeat offenders with microchips or order chemical castration. “Where the perpetrator murders their victim or leaves them with psychological trauma or a sexually transmitted disease,” the person could be executed, it is alleged. The changes approved last week were primarily a response to a gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in April carried out by 12 males.

The girl, Yuyun, was killed in the Sumatran village of Kasiah Kasubun, Bengkulu province. Three days later she was found dead, bloody and bruised with her hands bound behind her back.

Outrage sparked a social-media campaign led by artist Kartika Jahja, whose community Kolektif Betina (the Female Collective), started a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #Nyala untuk Yuyun (Candles for Yuyun) to raise awareness about sexual violence against women.

Jahja was quoted by BBC Indonesia saying: “Sexual violence is an emergency issue in Indonesia, but most people don’t care about it. We need to be together. If not, we won’t find the way out.”

Yuyun’s mother, Yana, added: “We don’t own very much, our children are our most precious possessions.

“They are the ones I have been struggling for my whole life.” She said her daughter had hoped to become a teacher.

Chemical castration is where a man is injected with female hormones, used on sex offenders in Poland, South Korea, Russia and some American states. In Illinois, Ohio, California and Arkansas repeat offenders can choose surgical or chemical castration to secure a release.

A 1991 Johns Hopkins study suggested that 10 per cent of chemically castrated offenders had committed sexual offences in the five years after the procedure. Other studies argued that some patients saw a surge in testosterone and increased sexual desires after the procedure.

“Other countries that have chemical castration have not seen a reduction in sexual crime against children,” the Indonesian National Commission for Women announced. “Also it’s a very expensive procedure and what we should be spending and investing our money in is services to support and help the victims.”