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The police stood on guard on Monday at pesantren (Islamic boarding school) Masyhadul As Musthatobah Curug in Depok, West Java, after a mob attacked the school on Sunday night over a cleric who allegedly molested a female student.
Depok Police said that the angry mob destroyed and burned the school upon rumors that Fauzan, 40, who had been detained since Saturday, had been released on Sunday.
The mob knocked down the school’s wall, tore down steel gates and burned down two pavilions. The 7,000-square-meter school compound was empty when the incident took place because the students were still on Idul Fitri vacation. The estimate of total loss is around Rp 150 million (US$15,789).
Residents learned over the weekend that Fauzan, the principal cleric, had sexually harassed student M, now 19, since 2009 and forced her to engage in an unofficial Islamic marriage, locally known as nikah siri.
Depok Police spokesperson First Adj. Insp. Bagus Suwardi said the police arrested Fauzan on Saturday after M’s parents and some residents reported him to the police on Friday.
He said that based on M’s statement, she was forced to follow Fauzan’s requests, otherwise, she would receive bad treatment from her teacher.
“The case is now being handled by the Women and Children’s Protection unit of the Depok Police,” Bagus said.
Depok Police chief Sr. Comr. Mulyadi Kaharni said the police would charge him under Article 81 of 2002 Law No. 23 on Children Rights Protection for sexually abusing a minor. Fauzan could face a maximum 15 years of imprisonment.
He said that based on the 1974 Law on Marriage, there must be the bride and groom, witnesses, marriage officers, a dowry and ijab kabul (wedding ceremony) for a marriage to take place.
“The cleric married his student without witnesses and, based on M’s statement, she was forced into it. So this is an abuse, a violation. There’s actually no marriage in this case,” Mulyadi said.
Muhammad Husein from the People Empowerment Institution (LPM) in Curug district said that they had tried to conduct negotiations between the victim’s and suspect’s family.
Husein said that M’s father, Hermansyah, was surprised that Fauzan had physically abused his daughter since she was in junior high school.
“We have conducted negotiations with them twice, but to no avail. The family and residents wanted the school to be closed down and Fauzan to get out of the neighborhood,” Husein said.
He said that M’s family had taken her to the Sukanto National Police Hospital in Kramat Jati for further examination.
Husein also said that up until Sunday afternoon, there were no signs that there would be an attack because all related parties had agreed to handle the case peacefully through legal channels.
“I was surprised when people came and attacked a school that has been here for 10 years,” he said.
Mulyadi said that the police had collected evidence and were currently questioning 14 witnesses regarding the attack.
“They are mostly young people from areas outside the school’s neighborhood. There were no local people who were involved in the attack,” he said.
While nikah siri is common in polygamy in the community, wedding children is condemned by both the law and social values.
In 2008, cleric Pujiono Cahyo Widianto, alias Syekh Puji, stood trial for marrying a 12-year-old girl as his second wife and his plan to officially marry her and two other girls, 9 and 7 years old respectively, at the same time.
Ungaran District Court found him innocent, but Central Java High Court sentenced him to four years’ imprisonment and a Rp 60 million fine. He appealed, but it was rejected by the Supreme Court in May 2010.
Puji has not served the term to date. In January, the Religious Court in Ambarawa, Central Java, granted his proposal to marry the girl, who he said already turned 16, with his first wife’s consent.