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Jakarta Post

Murky facts of Pontianak youth violence: What we know so far

  • Gisela Swaragita
    Gisela Swaragita

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, April 12, 2019   /   06:09 pm
Murky facts of Pontianak youth violence: What we know so far An illustration depicts bullying. The juvenile assault incident reported in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, has sparked public outrage on social media, but the facts surrounding the case remain murky at best. (Shutterstock/EstherQueen999)

The juvenile assault incident that occurred in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, has caused a sensation on social media since Tuesday, although the facts surrounding the case have been unclear and murky at best.

The incident sparked public outrage after two Twitter users quoted local media that described it as a brutal sexual assault committed by 12 female high school students against a female junior high schooler over a romantic dispute.

Twitter posts

Twitter user @syafirahmelinda uploaded a post on April 8 quoting berkatnewstv.com that revealed gory details of the attack, followed by several screenshots she had taken from the alleged perpetrators’ social media accounts. The post had been retweeted 45,000 times at the time of publication on Thursday. 

The following day, @zianafazura created her own post, quoting an article in tribunnews.com, which prompted the #JusticeForAudrey hashtag. Her post read: “Audrey, a junior high school student in Pontianak, was attacked by 12 female high school students [and is now] hospitalized. One of the perpetrators stabbed her genital to cause the victim to lose her virginity, and [the injury] has caused the victim’s genital to swell. #JusticeForAudrey.”

Further, @zianafazura claimed that the head of the West Kalimantan Child Protection Commission had expressed a wish for the case to be settled outside court.

“What surprised me the most was that the Child Protection Commission (KKPAD) wants this [case] to be settled peacefully for the sake of the perpetrators’ futures. Why must a victim of violence such as this [reconcile]? The perpetrators must be tried and if proven guilty, sent to juvenile prison #JusticeForAudrey”

The post was created on Tuesday and had gained 59,000 retweets at the time of publishing on Thursday.

The anger among netizens were further enflamed by the alleged perpetrators' posts on their social media accounts, which expressed no remorse.

It was also revealed that one of the teens involved, S., was a relative of the Democratic Party's legislative candidate, Raden Hidayatullah Kusuma Dilaga.

On Wednesday, Raden posted his own clarification on his YouTube channel, "Relawan Hijrah", saying that S. was a niece but that he was unconnected to the case.

Two 'official' versions

The West Kalimantan KKPAD and the West Kalimantan Police have been under public scrutiny amid calls for justice for the victim and punishment for the perpetrators.

The two authorities, however, have put forward different versions of the incident.

Pontianak Police report

A police report The Jakarta Post received on Tuesday from Comr. M. Husni Ramli, the Pontianak Police criminal investigation head, stated that the victim, Audrey, was picked up at her house on March 29 by a girl on a motorcycle. The two, followed by four unidentified girls, also on motorcycles, then picked up her cousin, identified as P. The two cousins then followed the five other girls to a lot on Jl. Sulawesi in Akcaya subdistrict, South Pontianak, where three other girls (the suspects) were waiting.

The suspects then assaulted Audrey in front of her cousin, slamming her head into the ground, kicking her stomach and back, pulling her hair, and dousing her with water.

Audrey tried to run away with P., but the suspects intercepted them at a nearby park and continued the assault. The suspects only stopped and fled the scene when some local residents passed by the area.

The report contains no information on any attack that targeted the victim's genitalia.

The South Pontianak District Police produced the report on April 5, a week after the incident.

West Kalimantan KKPAD records

In a telephone interview on Tuesday with the Post, West Kalimantan KKPAD head Eka Nurhayati confirmed that 12 teenage girls were involved in the attack.

She said the assault was motivated by a dispute over P., who was still in contact with an ex-boyfriend who was now dating one of the suspects.

“The suspect and P. were then involved in a 'chat war' over WhatsApp and Instagram Direct. The victim, who is P.’s cousin, became embroiled in the [dispute] by posting negative comments on the social media,” said Eka.

“According to the information the victim provided to the KPPAD, three of the main suspects [assaulted] Audrey. The other nine cheered them on and helped hold down Audrey and P. while the three assaulted Audrey,” she said.

Eka also denied claims that the girls had inserted their fingers into Audrey’s vagina in an attempt to make her lose her virginity.

“What has been circulating on social media is wrong. They did not do any such thing,” she stressed.

However, she confirmed that the suspects had struck Audrey’s genital area with their hands, but outside her trousers. 

Eka said the suspects threatened the victim not to tell her parents about the incident. The victim told her parents about what had happened only a week after the incident, as the victim reportedly continued to feel and vomit repeatedly.

Eka also denied the claim that the KPPAD had instructed the victim to reconcile with the perpetrators.

“If the victim wishes to pursue the case through a legal course, we will provide assistance. However, our focus now is trauma counseling,” she said.

Eka said the incident was initially reported to the South Pontianak Police, which had attempted to approach the case through mediation and peaceful resolution between the victim and the perpetrators.

Pontianak Police version

First Insp. Inayatun Nurhasanah, the women's and child protection head at the Pontianak Police, spoke to the Post by the phone on Thursday that further investigation into the incident had discovered that the event did not occur as detailed in the police report.

“There was no incidence of slamming [the victim's] head into the gravel. She was not doused with ice water. It was not even a group assault,” said Inayatun.

“An assault did take place, but it was a one-on-one fight,” she said, adding that Audrey also fought back.

Inayatun also said that the perpetrators did not threaten Audrey to prevent her from reporting the incident to her parents or the police. “[The victim] did not immediately report [the incident] because she did not feel like she needed to. She was not in pain. It was only because she kept vomiting a week later that she finally disclosed the incident to her parents,” she said.

Inayatun declined to provide further details on the chronology of the incident.

Police press briefing

At a press briefing on Wednesday evening, the police named three of the teenagers as suspects in the assault case, after questioning several witnesses and on reviewing the physical examination of the victim that was conducted at ProMedika Pontianak Hospital. 

The police have identified the three suspects as F., 17, T., 17, and C., 19.

“In the suspects’ interrogation, they admitted to assaulting the victim,” Pontianak Police chef Sr. Comr. M. Anwar Nasir said on Wednesday, as quoted by tribunnews.com.

As the suspects were below the legal age of 18, they were being charged as juveniles under Article 80 (1) and (2) in Law No. 35/2014 on child protection, which carries a maximum sentence of five years.

However, articles 6-15 of Law No. 11/2012 on juvenile courts stipulate that sentences less than seven years are eligible for diversion.