There is no crime worse than one committed against a child, and the Indonesian government is planning stringent measures to deal with the menace of sexual child abuse.
Convicted child abusers will now be microchipped, among other ongoing punishments.
"The microchip will be fitted before the criminals are released from prison, and is needed to monitor and locate them after they are freed," said Asrorun Niam Sholeh, head of government-backed rights group the National Commission for Child Protection.
The new measures also include chemical castration and longer prison terms for child rapists.
The action came after the brutal gang rape and murder of a schoolgirl sparked demands for tougher punishments.
The 14-year-old girl was attacked by a gang of drunken men and boys on her way back from school. Her battered body was found three days later in woods, tied up and naked. Twelve suspects have been arrested, seven under 18 years of age.
The call for severe punishment comes after months of devastating child abuse cases across the country.
In January 2016, the country was outraged when an 11-year-old girl fell into coma for six days and later died of infection after she was sexually abused. She had contracted sexually transmitted diseases from her own father.
Just a few weeks later, the family of a 5-year-old boy filed a report with police after he was allegedly sodomized by his neighbors, a police officer and a construction worker.
In 2010, the National Commission for Child Protection received 2,046 reports of violence against children, 42 percent of which were sexual. By 2012, the figure had risen to 2,637 cases, with 62 percent of them sexual abuse.
The numbers are believed to be just a fraction of the actual cases as not all the cases get reported.
According to Maria Advianti, secretary of the Indonesian Commission on Child Protection, family members committed most rape or sexual abuse crimes.
“In such cases, the probability of the victim filing a report is even lower,” she said. “We have heard cases where daughters were raped by their own fathers for years, in such cases where it would be impossible for the mothers to be totally ignorant.”
“I believe the mothers knew but were too afraid to say anything out of shame, or because the fathers were the bread-winner, and if the fathers went to jail the family would not have any means to survive,” Advianti added.
The Indonesian Commission on Child Protection also recorded a high number of child-abuse cases: 3,820 in all during 2015.
Finally, there is hope for things to get better. President Joko Widodo has pledged to swiftly push through a decree introducing tougher laws. The decree will hopefully get signed in the coming days.
Let’s just hope the new measures do get signed as well as implemented to the best of results.
Under the 2002 Law on Child Protection, anyone who has intercourse with a minor can face up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of Rp. 60 million ($6,200).
“Clearly our current law isn’t working, it doesn’t provide any deterrent for the perpetrator,” said Arist Merdeka Sirait, chairman of the National Commission for Child Protection.
“We need to revise the law; the minimum punishment for child sex abuse should be at least 15 years while the maximum sanction should be a life sentence,” he said. “There should be additional punishments if the perpetrators were the parents, teachers, or police officers of the children, and supposed to protect them.”
However, Advianti feels the current laws should be enough if implemented seriously.
“I think the current law is sufficient, it’s the enforcement that concerns me; many times prosecutors only demand seven to eight years for the perpetrators, so they could walk free in a few years,” she remarked.