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At a glance: Indonesia

Justice and support for victims of child sexual abuse in Indonesia

© UNICEF Indoneisa/2007/Susanto
Eight-year-old Melati (wearing pink top), a victim of sexual abuse, plays with a friend at a garden in Lombok, Indonesia.

By Suzanna Dayne

LOMBOK, Indonesia, 2 August 2007 – Lombok is a picturesque tropical island, one of thousands that make up the Indonesian archipelago. But behind the beauty lies the issue of child abuse, a hidden crime that affects the most vulnerable in the form of violence in the home and at school, child labour and sexual abuse.

Melati (not her real name), 8, lives here with her family. One day her mother noticed that Melati was not walking correctly and brought her to the health clinic. The doctors found that she was bleeding, and after an internal exam it became clear that she had been sexually abused.

The alleged rapist was a relative who is also a teacher.

Aftermath of abuse

Now Melati and her family are seeking help from a UNICEF-supported child protection agency, Lembaga Perlindungan Anak (LPA), which seeks justice and provides support for victims of child abuse.

© UNICEF Indoneisa/2007/Susanto
Students at Batu Kumbung 1 Elementary School in Lombok put up posters they made describing their views on child rights.

“LPA is trying to ensure that the suspect is tried under the child protection law, which has a maximum sentence of 15 years – 6 more than under the criminal code,” said Warniati, a counsellor at the agency.

UNICEF is also working with hospital staff and police to enlist the help of women police officers who are trained to deal sensitively with children who have been abused.

Education helps children cope

As Melati’s case shows, all too often children suffer abuse at the hands of those closest to them. Aside from the obvious trauma and physical harm, violence also affects a child’s self-confidence and ability to learn. UNICEF is turning to education as a way to address the problem.

“We introduce and promote child rights through schools,” said the head of the UNICEF Field Office in Lombok, Sinung Kristanto. “We want the children to learn about their rights, so they can explain them to their parents and to the members of their community.”

Fourth graders at Batu Kumbung 1 Elementary School in Lombok take part in one of UNICEF’s many child-friendly school programmes. It provides education for teachers about the adverse affects of corporal punishment, and how to identify children who have been abused.

“The children get very involved in this subject,” said teacher Yeti Pratiwi. “They create anti-violence posters and discuss the issue in a very lively way. Bringing the issue of abuse to light is key to protecting children. This can be done by giving them the tools they need to protect themselves and by supporting them when they need it most.”




1 August 2007:
UNICEF correspondent  Suzanna Dayne reports on efforts to protect children from sexual abuse in Indonesia.
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