Indonesian teen rape victim has sentence overturned

Court quashes 6-month term handed to girl, 15, who had abortion after being raped by brother
Indonesian teen rape victim has sentence overturned

Children display placards during a demonstration in Jakarta against domestic violence, in this file photo. A court in Sumatra has overturned a lower court ruling that jailed a 15-year-old girl for six months for getting an abortion after being raped by her brother (Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP)

A 15-year-old rape victim, controversially jailed last month by an Indonesian court for having an illegal abortion, was freed on Aug. 27 after an appeal court overturned the conviction.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons had been jailed for six months in July by a district court on Sumatra Island for getting an abortion after being raped by her elder brother, sparking outrage among rights groups and child welfare activists.

The decision by the High Court in Jambi Province comes as an online petition demanding the girl's release had gained about 19,000 signatures.

"The girl was proven to have had an abortion, but the action was done under forced circumstances. As such [the panel of judges] acquitted her of all charges," Judge John Diamond Tambunan, who led the panel of three judges, said in a statement.

According to the judges, the teenager had no choice but to terminate her eight-month pregnancy that resulted after being raped by her 17-year-old brother.

After terminating her pregnancy she covered the fetus in a headscarf and threw it away in an oil palm plantation near her parents' home, according to reports.    

Her brother was sentenced to two years in prison for sexually assaulting a minor.

Meanwhile, her mother is awaiting trial for allegedly helping facilitate the abortion.

Indonesian law considers abortion a crime, except in rape cases where it allows terminations within six weeks or 40 days of conception.

Mirna Novita Amir, spokeswoman of activist group, the Jambi Women's Consortium, welcomed the high court's ruling.

Since the beginning, she said, we have said that this girl was a rape victim and should not have been punished.

"Not to mention that she is also a minor," she added.

Adriana Veni from the National Commission on Violence Against Women said the case showed that women and children "remain exposed to sexual violence committed by family members."

She said her group recorded 1,210 cases in 2017.

"Of this number, 425 cases involved fathers and 58 cases involved brothers. Other perpetrators included stepfathers, husbands and uncles," she said.

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