Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) [Hong Kong]
November 16, 2023
Police on Indonesia’s Flores Island have arrested a man on the charge of raping his daughter for three years, in what is considered the latest in increasing cases of child abuse in the Catholic-majority island.
Paulus Sadu, 42, a Catholic and resident of Golo Wuas village in South Elar Subdistrict was arrested on Nov. 15 after his wife lodged a police complaint, said Jeffry Silaban, head of the East Manggarai Regency’s Police Crime and Investigation Unit.
Silaban said Sadu’s wife complained that he raped their 13-year-old daughter for the last three years beginning in 2020 and the latest on Sept. 28.
“He raped her in the garden, then threatened violence if she told anyone about his actions,” the police officer said adding that the father threatened to kill her with a machete when she tried to fight back.
However, on Nov. 11, the victim gathered courage to speak to her mother, who helped report the crime to the police on Nov. 14.
The mother reported the abuse to the village head, who immediately coordinated with the South Elar Subdistrict government, Silaban said. The accused was then arrested and handed over to the police, he added.
The police officer said Sadu has been charged with rape under the 2016 law on child protection, which carries a penalty of 20 years in prison.
Apart from reporting it to the police, residents have imposed customary fines on the perpetrator, as a sign of cleansing the village of heinous acts.
The village’s traditional leader, who asked not to be named, told UCA News on Nov. 16 that they had agreed to hold a traditional ceremony “so that similar heinous cases do not happen again in the future.”
The case caused a stir and sparked widespread condemnation, with residents voicing their concerns on social media.
Jefrin Haryanto, head of the East Manggaria Regency Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Service said the case was “astonishing.”
“How could he dare to do that to his biological child,” he said.
He said they are currently trying to assist the victim, “with a focus on psychological recovery from trauma.”
According to police data, there has been an increase in cases of violence against children in East Manggarai Regency, from 17 cases in 2021 to 25 cases in 2022, and to 47 cases this year.
This year, cases of sexual violence against children were the highest, namely 12 cases, of which 11 were rape cases.
Haryanto said he believed only a limited number of cases are reported “because there is still a lack of awareness to report every form of violence against children.”
Increasing cases of sexual violence have been reported in other areas on the island of Flores.
Holy Spirit Sister Frederika Tanggu Hana, coordinator of St. Theresia Shelter House in Labuan Bajo, West Flores, which accommodates victims of violence, said they had recorded a high increase in cases of sexual violence.
In 2020, she said, they handled five cases of sexual violence, and two cases last year.
However, this year, she said, they handled 27 cases of sexual violence and seven cases of rape.
One of the most recent cases was the rape of several minor girls under the guise of healing them by a man in Lembor Subdistrict in September.
The perpetrator, Thomas Barus, a Catholic was arrested on Sept. 2 after angry residents beat him and paraded him half-naked.
Sister Hana said this situation is an alarm for all of us to care about this issue.
“We cannot hand over this problem to certain parties, but must work together to address it,” she said.