Asia-Pacific

Fury stirs in Indonesia over brutal gang murder of schoolgirl

A vigil for 14yo rape/murder victim in Indonesia last April. Now new draft bill to legislate micro-chipping and chemical castration of child rapists launched. Source: AAP

Protesters demanding harsher laws against rape have taken to the street outside the presidential palace in Jakarta.

More than a hundred people have taken to the streets in front of the presidential palace in Jakarta to express outrage over the rape and murder of a 14-year-old schoolgirl.

It happened in the western Bengkulu province on Sumatra island in early April, and has since gripped the nation with furious demands for change.

The demonstrators, shouted "Stop sexual violence!" and wielded signs demanding justice for the child victim, Yuyun, who had been walking home from school in Kasie Kasubun village.

She was approached by a group of 14 boys who gang raped her and left her dead in a creek.

Demonstrators are seeking harsher laws to prevent what they say is an all-too-common occurrence in Indonesia, with an average of 35 women raped per day, according to the National Commission on Violence Against Women.

"Sexual violence must be stopped NOW!" Safita Permatasari demanded on Twitter, using the hashtag #NyalaUntukYuyun, or #LightforYuyun, a tag that has gone viral on social media since musician Kartika Jahja posted a video clip on May 2 in which she lit a candle in solidarity with Yuyun.

President Joko Widodo responded in an official statement that read, "We all mourne the tragic YY event. Catch and punish the perpetrators severely. Women and children must be protected from violence."

Though 12 of Yuyun's 14 rapists, aged 14-17, were caught this week and now face trial, they are being tried as minors without prior conviction records, which is likely to reduce their sentence to less than 10 years in jail, according to public prosecutor Arlyla Noviana Adam, as cited by Kabarmakkah news online.

A United Nations survey of rape in six Asia Pacific countries in 2013 notes that more than 57 per cent of rapists committed their first instance of rape as teenagers, and 26.2 per cent of Indonesian men confess to having committed rape in their lifetimes.

Activists blame the frequency of the abuse in the island nation on a patriarchal culture that continues to place the blame and responsibility on the victim, an attitude demonstrators are rallying to change.

"And I promise there's a special place in hell for those who ask, 'What was she wearing?'" tweeted women's rights activist Andhya F. Utami.

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