Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - The mother of a 14-year-old Indonesian rape victim demanded an apology from Education and Culture Minister Mohammad Nuh for suggesting that the encounter might have been consensual.
The mother of the girl, who has only been identified by her initials SAS, said yesterday that her daughter had suffered a setback after the minister said she may have consented to sex and then claimed rape.
"My daughter was a victim, not an active participant. Our family has agonised over this incident, and then the minister's comment aggravated [our suffering]," the mother said during a press conference at The National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA) in Jakarta.
SAS, who also attended the press conference, was allegedly kidnapped on September 23 by a man identified as Den Gilang alias Yugi.
Yugi, who worked as freelance public minivan driver, allegedly took the girl to a house in Parung, Bogor, and forced her to have sex with him and other men under the influence of alcohol. The girl was set free only after one week in captivity.
Nuh told reporters last week that cases of teenage rape were sometimes the victims' fault. "Sometimes it can be intentional. They do it for fun and then the girl alleges that it's rape."
Speaking to The Jakarta Post on Monday, Nuh said that his statement was taken out of context.
Nuh, however, declined to specify what his original intent was.
"At the time, I said to reporters that I didn't know the full detail [of the rape case]. I just reaffirmed that every child, under no circumstances, should be denied equal access to education," he said.
Nuh was responding to reporters' questions on his reaction to the decision by the victim's junior high school in Depok, West Java to expel her soon after she was released from captivity.
Nuh insisted that he would not apologise for his statement.
"I have made a clarification, so I don't need to make an apology," Nuh said.
Komnas PA chairman Arist Merdeka Sirait lambasted Nuh for making such an insensitive remark, saying that it could affect the outcome of the police's investigation.
"The police have named her victim in a crime and will charge the perpetrators with multiple charges. The remark could convince the police to drop the charges built on the 2002 law on child protection. They will instead opt to use Article 332 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on the abduction of a minor female victim," Sirait said.
The Depok Police are expected to charge the suspect with Article 81 of the Child Protection Law on Child Abduction, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail and a 300 million rupiah (US$31,299) fine.
If SAS is found to have engaged in consensual sex, her abductor can only be charged with Article 332 of the Criminal Code, which stipulates that a suspect who keeps an underage girl without her parent's consent, but with her own approval, faces a maximum penalty of seven years in prison if convicted.
SAS has been allowed to return to her school following public outcry against the school's decision to expel her.
Her mother said that SAS barely recovered from what she had gone through. "Although the school has allowed her back, she isn't brave enough to go back to school. She is now taking a mid-term exam at home. After the test, the Depok Education Agency will help her find a new school," said her mother.