Tragedy in a Safe House
A 13-year-old girl was repeatedly raped by a family member, then by an official in a safe house. These new facts show that the sexual violence eradication law is a matter of urgency.
HER life went from bad to worse. The 13-year-old girl from Way Jepara, East Lampung Regency, Lampung, who had just graduated from elementary school was subjected to repeated sexual assaults by her uncle. Tragically, while she was undergoing therapy, the offenses were repeated. She was repeatedly raped while living in a safe house of the Integrated Care Center for the Empowerment of Women and Children (P2TP2A), an agency of the regency administration.
The first rape offense occurred at the end of last November. The perpetrator is now serving a 13-year jail sentence. The local government then placed her in a safe house for counseling and treatment. There she was raped again by the head of the P2TP2A unit. This rape came to light after the victim and her father filed a report with the Lampung Police in Bandar Lampung. The police have named the unit head a suspect.
Subsequently, more sad information came to light. It is alleged that there were other perpetrators apart from the victim’s uncle and the head of the safe house. Information has emerged that other young girls were also victims of sexual violence. There had been more findings: not only sexual violence but also suspected human trafficking.
Those responsible must be condemned, while the victim must be given protection and physical and psychological treatment. It is time the people responsible for these crimes received the maximum penalties in line with the Child Protection Law. This case should spur on an evaluation of the way that safe houses are managed.
Safe houses must not become unsafe, yet alone turn into a new hell for the victims. The operational procedures of safe houses must be evaluated. A number of victim protection agencies and institutions need to make improvements to their management systems. The managers of these safe houses must be subject to very strict selection procedures. If the victims are women, the counselors should be women, especially those who have a good understanding of how to deal with rape victims.
This case reminds us of the importance of passing the Sexual Violence Eradication Bill into law. According to the National Human Rights Commission, the incidence of violence against women—most of which is sexual violence—is very high. Last year, there were 431,471 cases of violence against women. This was an increase of six percent over the previous year. Unfortunately, the sexual violence bill was removed from the 2020 Priority National Legislative Program by the House of Representatives Legislation Body and the justice and human rights minister. This decision meant that deliberations of the bill were once again delayed. If it comes into force, the sexual violence eradication law will provide better protection for victims of sexual violence.
The police must work hard to investigate this case. Looking for ways to blame victims for what happened to them is a completely the wrong way to handle rape offenses. Investigations that do not consider the victim’s viewpoint—for example asking for the details of the incident, including asking the victims how they felt while they were being raped—will only make matters worse for the victims. Of course, there must be proof so that justice is done. But this must all be done without making the victim repeatedly relive the violence.