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Indonesian teacher gets life in prison for raping 13 students

JAKARTA: An Indonesian teacher was sentenced to life in prison for the rape of 13 students on Tuesday, in a case that has gripped the nation and drawn attention toward sexual violence against children in the country.
The Bandung District Court in West Java found Herry Wirawan guilty of raping 13 female students and impregnating eight of them. All of his victims were minors, many of whom came from poor families and had attended the school on scholarships.
Indonesian prosecutors had demanded the court impose the death sentence and chemical castration on Wirawan, but judges ruled that the 36-year-old, a religion teacher, would be sentenced to life in prison.
The court listed a number of aggravating factors contributing to Wirawan’s conviction, including his leadership role at Madani Boarding School.
“As a teacher and caretaker of the pesantren (Islamic boarding school), he should protect, guide, and educate the children who are studying and attending his school,” Chief Justice Yohanes Purnomo said, “but the defendant set a bad example and destroyed the future of the children of his pesantren.”
During the trial, it was revealed that Wirawan had raped his students since 2016. The pattern of abuse only surfaced last May, when parents of one victim reported him to the police for raping and impregnating their teenage daughter.
Wirawan pleaded for leniency to allow him to raise his children, saying that he raped his victims in moments of weakness.
The court ruled that restitution for the victims, amounting to around $23,200 in total, will be paid by the government.
Wirawan’s case has sparked outrage across Indonesia, with one government minister saying President Joko Widodo had paid special attention to the case. The country has recently seen a number of disturbing child sex abuse cases make national headlines.
Last month, Lukas Lucky Ngalngola, a Catholic priest who ran an orphanage on the outskirts of Jakarta, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for sexually abusing children under his care.
The Indonesian Witness and Victim Protection Agency LPSK said Wirawan’s sentence is “the harshest” handed down by an Indonesian court for sexual offenders.
“We hope this can act as a deterrent effect for other sexual offenders,” Livia Iskandar, LPSK’s deputy chairperson, told Arab News.
Iskandar said more child victims had applied for protection in 2021 compared to the year before. Of nearly 2,200 sexual violence cases it received last year — the highest annual rate since 2017 — LPSK said most involved children.

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