JAKARTA - Indonesia has agreed to give maximum penalties to rapists and sex offenders, following nationwide outcry over the brutal gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old schoolgirl.
Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly said on Tuesday (May 10) that their jail terms will be extended from 15 years to 20 years, and even life sentences in more severe cases. "They may also be given the death penalty if the victim dies," he was quoted as saying by Tempo news website.The identities of adult offenders will also be made public, he added.
The news came as seven people, including teenagers, were sentenced to 10 years behind bars for raping and murdering the schoolgirl.
The agreement was reached during a coordination meeting between ministries in Jakarta on Tuesday morning, which was held after reports about the high-profile rape case went viral on social media last week.
The teenage girl was on her way home from school in Bengkulu province, in South Sumatra, when she was believed to have been dragged into the woods by someone she knew, brutally gang-raped and then killed. Her body was found dumped in a ravine two days later.
Twelve people, seven of whom were teenage boys under 17 years old, have been arrested. Two other suspects remain at large.
The case has prompted calls by rights groups for stronger laws to protect women and children in the country.
Even President Joko Widodo has voiced his condemnation on Twitter, saying: "Arrest and punish the perpetrators as severely as possible. Women and children must be protected from violence."
Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture Puan Maharani on Tuesday said the government will also impose social sanctions and apply shock therapy to deter potential offenders, but "are still discussing the technicalities", Tempo said.
The meeting also discussed the possibility of castrating sexual offenders and rapists, but did not reach any decision.
The National Commission on Violence Against Women, or Komnas Perempuan, has documented 321,752 cases of violence against women last year, its commissioner Masruchah had told The Straits Times. The number had gone up by more than 28,500 from the previous year.
She also noted "an extraordinary" trend of rise in gang rapes since 2013.