PALU (Central Sulawesi) • An Indonesian shaman has been arrested for abducting a teenager and keeping her as a sex slave for 15 years by claiming he was possessed by the spirit of her imaginary boyfriend, police said yesterday.
The distressed woman, who is now aged 28, was found naked by police on Sunday in a jungle cave near the village of Bajungan in Tolitoli regency, Central Sulawesi province.
"We found the victim in a gap between rocks," said Tolitoli police chief Iqbal Alqudusy.
The woman was reported missing by her family in 2003, when she was 13, after visiting the shaman for treatment of an illness.
The victim's father spent years looking for his daughter.
But police said the shaman, whose son is married to the victim's sister who allegedly knew about the abduction, had told the family the girl had gone far away and would not return.
"Every day, for many years, the shaman had sex with her under the pretence that he was possessed by a male spirit," Mr Iqbal told Agence France-Presse yesterday.
The 83-year-old shaman, identified as Jago, tricked the woman into believing the spirit of a young man named Amrin lived inside him, Mr Iqbal said. The victim was convinced Amrin was her boyfriend.
The shaman is alleged to have hidden the woman in the cave during the day and to have had sex with her in a nearby hut at night. Jago reportedly told her a spirit was guarding the hole where she was hidden in the cave to stop her from leaving.
The police rescued the woman, who is now at a safe house, after receiving a tip-off from a family member. "She is very disoriented; she's scared of people and keeps wanting to go back to the cave," Mr Iqbal said, adding she would undergo therapy.
The shaman faces 15 years in prison for allegedly having sex with a minor. His family members are also being investigated for failing to inform the police.
Indonesia is a mainly Muslim country but superstitious practices are still widespread.
People often turn to shamans, practitioners seen as having influence in the spirit world and the paranormal, to treat illnesses or to consult on everyday life.
The authorities have introduced a law to ban black magic, with violators facing up to three months in jail or a fine of 450,000 rupiah (S$43).
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK