Indonesia teacher gets life in prison for rape of 13 students

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BANDUNG (AFP) – An Indonesian court on Tuesday (Feb 15) sentenced a teacher to life in prison for the rape of 13 students, in a case that has drawn national attention to sexual abuse in the country’s religious boarding schools.

Bandung district court in West Java found Herry Wirawan guilty of raping 13 female students, all minors, and impregnating at least eight of them.

During the trial, it was revealed he had raped the children – many from poor families attending the school on scholarships – over five years.

The pattern of abuse came to light when the family of a female student reported Wirawan to the police for raping and impregnating their teenage daughter last year.

The revelations have sparked national outrage, with a senior government official saying President Joko Widodo has paid special attention to the case.

Wirawan, 36, arrived in court in handcuffs and kept his head down as judge Yohannes Purnomo Suryo Adi sentenced him to life in prison.

He had asked the judge for leniency to allow him to raise his children.

The court also said restitution for victims will be paid by the government.

More than 25,000 Islamic boarding schools – known as “pesantren” – are dotted across Indonesia, with nearly five million students living and studying in the dorms.

Teaching is often regimented – students attend regular classes during the day and continue Quranic studies and Islamic teachings into the evening.

The Bandung rape case has shone a spotlight on the problem of sexual abuse in the schools, with 14 out of the 18 cases reported to the National Child Protection Commission last year taking place in pesantren.

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