The Jakarta Post
The North Sulawesi Police have arrested five students who were allegedly involved in the sexual assault of a female schoolmate at a vocational high school in the province's Bolaang Mongondow regency.
The case first emerged in the public eye when a video showing four students purportedly harassing a female student in a classroom made the rounds on social media on Monday.
In the video, the students are seen holding the victim as they grope her.
The Bolaang Mongondow Police subsequently launched a probe into the incident and arrested five people aged 16 to 17 years old, North Sulawesi Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Jules Abbast said.
The five people comprised three boys and two girls, including one who allegedly recorded the video.
Jules said the arrested students told the police during their questioning that they were only joking around while waiting for the teacher to arrive to class.
"According to their motive, the incident was meant as joke material while waiting for the teacher. At that time, the teacher [reportedly] did not arrive to class yet,” Jules said as reported by Antara on Tuesday.
He went on to say that the female victim was deeply traumatized by the incident.
Separately, Bolaang Mongondow Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Indra Pramana said the incident happened on Feb. 26.
He added that the police were carefully handling the case as the victim and the perpetrators were underage.
Such sexual harassment is a criminal offense according to Article 82 of the 2014 law on child protection, which carries maximum punishment of 15 years in prison.
The incident has been criticized by child protection stakeholders, including Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Bintang Puspayoga, who called for authorities to immediately handle the case.
“I feel so upset knowing such violence and bullying happened. Moreover, it happened in an educational institution and it was intentionally recorded and shared to the public,” Puspayoga said in a statement on Tuesday.
She added that the ministry had coordinated with the Bolaang Mongondow Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Agency, the police’s Criminal Investigation Department and the school’s authorities.
“I’ll make sure that the case is handled with consideration of the [victim’s] needs,” she said.
She also asked the public not to further share the video as doing so would violate Article 64 of the 2014 law.
The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) urged the North Sulawesi Education Agency to investigate the school’s principal and other teachers who should be responsible in protecting students from all kinds of violence, as stated in the 2014 law as well as Education and Cultural Ministerial Decree No. 82/2015 on the prevention and handling of violence in educational institutions.
“The KPAI urges schools to settle the sexual harassment case to create a deterrent effect on perpetrators. The KPAI also calls for psychological assistance for the victim and rehabilitation for the perpetrators,” said the KPAI commissioner in charge of education, Retno Listyarti.
Bolaang Mongondow Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Agency chairwoman Farida Mooduto said the agency had worked to provide psychological assistance for both the victim and the five alleged perpetrators. (aly)