Jakarta. The mother of a kindergarten boy who was sexually abused at the Jakarta International School says she suspects that her son’s case was not the first at the school.
The boy’s mother said that in a meeting with parents of other students, some of them said they suspected their children may also have been sexually assaulted at the school, known as JIS.
“One said that her child often draws pictures of an adult holding a knife with blood everywhere. Another said that her child told her of being grabbed by the neck in the toilet. One even told my husband that his 9-year-old daughter was raped a year ago and that he had moved the girl to Bali,” said the boy’s mother, who was accompanied by lawyer O.C. Kaligis at a press conference on Saturday.
The boy’s mother, who is Indonesian, said that the parents told her they could not talk further about the incidents after the meeting because JIS officials forbade them from speaking to the press or to the police without the school’s permission.
“I told them, you should not be afraid. You will still be protected like me [an Indonesian national] even though you are expatriates,” said the boy’s mother.
JIS has not responded to the allegation.
Reacting to the Education Ministry’s indication on Friday that it would order the JIS kindergarten closed, the boy’s mother said she was surprised to hear that the kindergarten did not have a license to operate.
“If I had known the school had no permit, I would not be crazy enough to enroll my son there,” she said. “Would you pay Rp 20 million [$1,760] per month to enroll [your child] at a school that has no permit? That’s why I’m really upset."
Tempo.co reported Lydia Freyani Hawadi, the ministry’s director general for early childhood and non-formal education, as saying that the school could reopen after securing the proper permit.
But the boy’s mother said she hoped that the ministry would close it down for good, saying that the school was never transparent about its operations.
The Dutch Embassy has reportedly asked the police to carry out a thorough investigation into the assault on the boy, who is believed to hold Dutch citizenship by descent.
“The Dutch Embassy has asked for the case to be investigated thoroughly,” said Andi M. Asrun, one of the lawyers for the victim’s family.
Andi said that this was not the first incident of sexual violence against JIS students, claiming that similar attacks had befallen children of Australian and British nationals at the school, but without providing further details such as when the incidents occurred.
Andi said that the sexual violence on the 6-year-old was systematic, because the perpetrators had threatened the victim, ensuring he was too afraid to report the incident.
“This crime has a pattern. A person was already in the restroom when the boy went in and closed the door. The boy was threatened and was hit when he cried. He was told not to tell anyone when he went out of the restroom,” Andi was quoted as saying by Kompas.com.
Andi said that the victim would have reported the incident to his teacher or parents if he wasn’t threatened.
Andi said that Jakarta Police Chief Insp. Gen. Dwi Priyanto had promised the boy’s parents on Thursday that investigators would get to the bottom of the case.
“The police have promised to probe the school’s involvement. The police plan to hold a re-enactment at the crime scene,” Andi said.
Andi also lamented the Education Ministry’s delay in moving to close down the kindergarten, saying that the step should have been taken immediately once the ministry found out that the school was operating the kindergarten without a license.
“The closure is fair but for me it’s late. It should have been closed immediately when they received the [ministry’s] summons and learned they didn’t have a permit,” Andi said.
Tampering with evidence
Kaligis accused JIS of tampering with evidence by renovating the restroom and dismissing janitors who could serve as witnesses in the case.
“Tampering with the evidence is a crime,” he said, adding that it laid the school open to prosecution. The prominent lawyer said that tampering with evidence could slow down the investigation process because the evidence could be used in the court.
The boy’s mother said that the restrooms at JIS resembled toilets at shopping malls, but that the doors continued up to the walls with no gap.
“If a child goes in, no one will ever know. I don’t know about the new restroom,” she said.