Indonesian teacher gets life sentence for raping 13 female students

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An Indonesian court on Tuesday sentenced a boarding school owner who groomed and raped 13 of his female students to life in jail.

Herry Wirawan, who is also a religious teacher, was found guilty of having raped the girls aged between 11 and 16 since 2016 and impregnated eight of them. They had given birth to nine children.

Wirawan’s abuse of the girls has shocked Indonesians since his case emerged last year.

Indonesian prosecutors had urged the court to impose a death sentence but a bench of judges in the Bandung District Court ruled that the 36-year-old would be sentenced to life in jail.

They also rejected prosecutors’ calls for Wirawan to be punished with chemical castration.

The years-long abuse was only discovered in May last year, when the parents of one of the victims discovered their child was pregnant.

The court heard how Wirawan had been sexually abusing students since 2016, when he opened his Islamic boarding school in Bandung city in West Java.

According to local media, prosecutors said Wirawan had attracted local students to his college by offering scholarships and other incentives to young people in the impoverished area.

The court heard that the girls were additionally vulnerable, as they were away from their families and cut off from regular contact with them. Their mobile phones were confiscated and trips home were only allowed once a year.

Prosecutors had called for the harshest penalty of a death sentence, as well as chemical castration and compensation of over 300 million rupiahs (US$21,000) to the victims.

Wirawan’s case renewed anger in Indonesia over the rates of sexual violence and abuse of women – and led to calls for a long-languishing sexual violence eradication bill to be enacted.

Women’s rights activists had been lobbying for the bill to be enacted for nearly a decade but the legislation had been consistently delayed by conservative lawmakers.

Religious voices and Islamic groups had argued that the bill – which aimed to define sexual harassment, marital rape and other forms of sexual violence as a criminal offences – also had the effect of promoting sexual promiscuity, a claim heavily rubbished by proponents of the bill.

The Indonesian government will pay up to 85 million rupiahs (US$5945; £4394) in compensation to each victim. (Source: BBC)

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