JAKARTA, Indonesia – Activists on Monday criticized a six-month prison sentence given to a 15-year-old Indonesian girl who had an abortion after being repeatedly raped by her brother.
The district court in Muara Bulian in Jambi province also sentenced the girl's 18-year-old brother on Thursday to two years' imprisonment for having sex with a minor.
Erasmus Napitupulu, program director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, said the court did not take into account the reason for the abortion.
"The court may decide that she is guilty of having an abortion, but if we see the background that encouraged her to do so, do we need to punish her?" Napitupulu said. "Yes, she violated the law, but she should not be held accountable."
Zubaidah, director of the Embun Pagi Women's School in Jambi, said the girl's sentence was unfair and violated the Child Protection Law.
"It is an incest case that has to be seen more comprehensively than merely an abortion," said Zubaidah, who uses one name.
Abortion is illegal in Indonesia but is allowed in cases of rape, especially if the woman's life is at risk. However, the abortion must take place within 1 1/2 months of becoming pregnant and be performed by professionals.
The girl had her abortion when she was six months' pregnant, court spokesman Listyo Arif Budiman said.
"The judge panel concluded that in spite of being underage, the defendant should have protected the fetus, should have given the fetus the right to life," Budiman said. He noted that because of their ages, the panel ruled that the girl and her brother must undergo rehabilitation at the Institute for Special Education of Children.
Testimony in court said the girl had been raped eight times since September. In May, residents discovered a headless fetus behind their house near a palm oil plantation. Police made the arrests in June.
The girl's mother, who faces charges of aiding the abortion, helped her daughter out of fear of being shamed by neighbors, said Singgih Hermawan, the deputy police chief.
The defendants and their lawyers accepted the sentences.
It was not clear whether prosecutors, who had demanded a one-year sentence for the girl and seven years for her brother, would appeal the sentences.
Media reports said villagers who saw the case as incest have decided to banish the siblings from the village.
This story has been corrected to show that first name of Napitupulu is Erasmus instead of Easmus.