Indonesian girl, 14, allegedly bashed and sexually assaulted by 12 high school students
The case of a 14-year-old girl who was brutally attacked by 12 high school pupils in Indonesia
has triggered an international outcry on social media, with more than 3 million signatories as of Wednesday afternoon demanding justice for the teenager in an online petition.
The victim, identified as Audrey, was believed to have been physically and sexually assaulted by three main perpetrators, who were assisted by nine others. She is currently undergoing intensive care at a private hospital in Pontianak, West Kalimantan.
The perpetrators allegedly slammed Audrey’s head on an asphalt road, kicked her stomach multiple times, choked her and poured water over her. One of the suspects purportedly tried to force her finger in the victim’s genitalia.
The incident occurred on March 29, but was reported to the police a week later due to threats issued by the perpetrators.
Audrey was believed to have been targeted after her cousin – who is the ex-boyfriend of one of the alleged assaulters – had a relationship that turned sour, according to multiple social media users following the case.
Many social media users reacted angrily to speculation that authorities wanted Audrey’s family to settle out of court to protect the underage perpetrators from legal proceedings.
The rumour inspired the hashtag #JusticeForAudrey, which trended worldwide on Twitter.
“I reckon this movement is a continuity of Indonesians to show their support to victims (any violence, any sexual harassment, especially [involving] women) started when a student in University Gadjah Mada was raped by another student,” said Febriana Firdaus, an Indonesian freelance journalist who writes about human rights and women’s issues. “Since then, people are willing to speak up on any violence, sexual harassment, and so on.”
Eka Nurhayati Ishak, head of the Child Protection Commission (KPPAD) in West Kalimantan province, on Tuesday told reporters the commission did not suggest the case should be resolved just between the families [of Audrey and the alleged perpetrators].
“What’s wrong is wrong and needs to be processed according to the laws,” she said at a media briefing.
KPPAD heard from the victim that the South Pontianak police suggested mediation and asked the victim to come to the police station to meet the perpetrators, she said.
“We are here to assist the victim and after knowing about [the mediation effort], we don’t think this should be the process. For the perpetrators, there must be guidance and also deterrence [from repeating what they’ve done],” Eka said.
A video uploaded on Instagram in which the purported perpetrators said they were “chilling out” at the police station further incensed netizens, who believe the bullies – one of whom is said to hail from a wealthy family with connections to the police – are not remorseful.
Fuelled by outrage and a lack of confidence in justice for Audrey, some netizens have taken matters into their own hands by exposing and shaming the young suspects.
“The problem is with Indonesian law enforcement, we don’t trust that they can handle this case fairly,” Firdaus said. “People are … taking any action that they think will not let Audrey down.”
But Firdaus says the hacking of one of the suspected perpetrators’ Instagram account was “crossing the line”.
“I think everyone needs to calm down, even though I am not sure if the police will do something with this case or even [if] the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) will do their job properly,” she said.
Others are cautious about exposing the alleged culprits based on speculation.
“Personally, I’m really against the ‘doxing the perpetrators’ movement … because the story hasn’t been fully told yet,” said Fakhri, a 17-year-old Indonesian pupil in Bogor.
“Now there’s a rumour saying that Audrey doesn’t have any bruises on her. But what I think angered netizens is the suspects’ refusal to apologise and the inappropriate behaviour of posting an Instagram Story while in the custody of the police.”