The Jakarta Post
Content warning: This story contains information about sexual assault that may be disturbing to some readers.
Authorities are investigating allegations that a student at Airlangga University (Unair) in Surabaya, East Java, sexually assaulted multiple people after several first-person accounts of the allegations went viral on Twitter.
The accused student, Gilang, allegedly tricked his victims into performing an act known as “bondage mummification” under the pretense of academic research.
The case garnered public attention after a Twitter user with the handle @m_fikris gave an account of his encounter with Gilang, who allegedly claimed to be looking for a research subject for his thesis about “wrappings”.
The user wrote that Gilang persistently begged him to take part in the research, saying he was at risk of failing his studies for not finishing his thesis. Gilang was in his fifth year of university.
“I felt sorry, so I agreed to help. He told me that the research subject needed to be wrapped from head to toe so they could show emotions such as anxiety. [At first] I refused, but he convinced me that it was totally safe,” @m_fikris wrote.
Gilang sent instructions for @m_fikris and his friend to take turns covering each other’s bodies, including their mouths and eyes, with duct tape. He also instructed them to wrap their bodies in jarik [traditional Javanese cloth].
Gilang asked them to record the process and to send him the footage afterwards.
Another victim, who requested anonymity, said Gilang had asked him to visit his boarding house to help with his “research” last year. He said Gilang wrapped him in cloth, stripped him naked and sexually assaulted him.
“The incident has traumatized me for the last eight months. I’ve had nightmares about it,” the person told The Jakarta Post.
Another victim, who asked to remain anonymous, said he managed an escape from Gilang’s attempts in March. The 19-year-old college freshman from Surabaya had initially agreed to help Gilang with his research.
“As Gilang was not in Surabaya because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he asked me to carry out the wrapping process with one of his relatives and send him pictures and videos of the process,” the 19-year-old said.
He met Gilang’s “relative”, a high school student who, he discovered, had been blackmailed by Gilang into participating in the so-called research.
A third victim, a 24-year-old, said he had been assaulted by Gilang in 2015 when they were both university freshmen.
While he was sleeping at Gilang’s boarding house after a university event, he said he could feel Gilang cover his body with a blanket and grope him.
“Strangely, I could not move at that time. I suppose he had drugged me. I confronted him the next day, and he admitted all his actions,” said the victim.
Unair spokesperson Suko Widodo confirmed that Gilang was a student at the university’s School of Cultural Sciences (FIB) and had enrolled in 2015.
Suko added that the school’s ethics commission and the Surabaya Police were investigating the allegations against Gilang, including those filed several years ago.
“I cannot say much because we haven’t been able to contact Gilang yet. However, we would expel him if he was found guilty of committing the sexual harassment [that he has been accused of] as it would be a serious violation,” the spokesperson said.
Suko said no faculty members had received any prior reports but that he was looking into the matter further.
The FIB has established an information center for victims who want to report their cases and has prepared counseling services for victims.