Sep 06, 2016

    Sexual predators target children online in Indonesia

    THE recent bust of an online child prostitution ring based in Bogor, West Java, serves as a wake-up call for Indonesia, particularly the authorities, on the presence of predators who use social media to prey on children.

    During a raid at a Bogor hotel, the police arrested a man, identified only as AR, on suspicion that he pimped out 99 boys to paedophiles.

    He allegedly recruited the boys via Facebook.

    The police reportedly caught him red-handed sealing a transaction with a customer.

    Seven boys below 16 years old and an 18-year-old were also found at the scene.

    "The perpetrator is facing multiple charges for cybercrime, pornography, human trafficking and child abuse," National Police Criminal Investigation Department director Brigadier General Agung Setya said.

    It was not the first time that AR had committed such offences.

    Six months ago, the 41-year-old was still in prison serving a sentence for trafficking young women, whom he also sold as prostitutes.

    Brig Gen Agung said AR operated his illegal online business for almost one year, meaning that he presumably had been preying on the young boys when he was still serving his sentence.

    He added that AR had exploited 99 boys from various parts of the country and lured them with a 1.2 million rupiah (S$123) payment.

    The police are carrying out further investigations in a bid to flush out AR's customers.

    "No matter what, those customers have committed a crime against children by preying on young boys," said Brig Gen Agung.

    The police had also previously arrested a woman for allegedly selling the sexual services of children via Twitter.

    She used Twitter to communicate with "prospective customers".

    The two cases involving minors are only a few of many that have reached the attention of the law enforcement agencies.

    Poor law enforcement and public ignorance have left minors vulnerable to cyber-related crimes, especially sexual assault.

    Data from the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA) show that children's growing use of the Internet is a significant factor behind such cases.

    Komnas PA recorded 4,726 crimes against children last year, 58 per cent of which were sex offences.

    Nearly 38 per cent of those sex offences involved the use of social media to recruit victims.

    Komnas PA found that the victims came from a range of family backgrounds, from very disadvantaged families to upper-middle income ones.

    This shows that all children from all family backgrounds are vulnerable to sexual predators, said Komnas PA chairman Arist Merdeka Sirait.

    He is calling for stricter law enforcement to create a deterrent effect.

    At the same time, the public must also be reminded that protecting children is everybody's responsibility.