source : The Jakarta Post
Although Bali is known around the world for its unique culture and beautiful scenery, it has been attracting more than just tourists wanting to explore its charm. Pedophiles from several foreign countries have been frequenting the resort island, according to experts and scholars.
Disguising themselves as rich tourists, numerous overweight middle-aged men and business-like visitors, as well as many other foreigners, come to the island with one thing on their minds: to prey on underaged boys and girls, reports said.
In many parts of the island, mainly in the remote and poor villages, there is no shortage of boys and girls available to provide sexual services to these pedophiles. Many poverty-stricken parents cannot afford to send their children to school and allow them to roam the streets and beaches — public areas that make them easy targets for adult sex offenders.
Luh Ketut Suryani, a professor of psychiatry at the Denpasar-based University of Udayana, said Bali was a popular tourist destination that could be a safe haven for pedophiles around the world to stalk their prey.
“”The illicit practice also occurs in several Asian tourist hubs, such as Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and now Myanmar,”" the professor said.
Over the last few years, cases of pedophilia have been documented extensively in the United States and some European countries, and involve adults from various backgrounds, ranging from celebrities and executives to even religious leaders.
In Jakarta, the 1997 case of Robot Gedek, who allegedly sodomized and killed a number of street children, shocked those living in the capital.
Bali also reported a case of pedophilia when an Italian tourist, Mario Manarra, was accused of fondling and sodomizing young boys in the Lovina beach area near Singaraja of North Bali in August last year. This was the first case of pedophilia that went to trial in Bali. He was sentenced to 10 months in jail.
“”Reports of pedophilia in Bali and anywhere else in Indonesia are only the tip of the iceberg. We only know what is on the surface. In reality, it’s so dangerous and life threatening to our children, our future generation,”" the professor said.
Pedophilia, she said, was a type of psychosexual disorder in which adults — men or women — were only sexually attracted to children.
“”Many pedophiles usually have a low self-esteem and see sexual activity with a child as more arousing and less threatening than with an adult,”" Suryani said. Their sexual activities vary from genital display to sexual intercourse.
In western countries, pedophilia is considered a very serious sexual offense. These countries have stern laws and regulations against pedophiles and enforce very severe penalties against adults who have sex with children.
Pedophilia often involves forced action and violence against children. “”They are abusing children who are still physically and emotionally vulnerable,”" Suryani said. That is why, in western countries, the younger the child and the greater the difference in age between the pedophile and the victim, the more severe the punishment was, she said.
The Philippines and Thailand, she said, had strict laws against pedophiles and set up a cooperation with the International Police (Interpol) and the pedophiles’ countries of origin to collaborate in apprehending them.
Strangely, Suryani said, the Balinese and its authorities do not seem to mind or be aware of this dangerous social issue.
Indonesia has ratified the United Nations Convention on Children’s Rights, however, the nation is not so serious in implementing it into law. Crimes and violence against children are contained in articles 289 to 298 of the Criminal Code (KUHP).
Fortunately, there are a number of civil society groups concerned about children’s welfare. They include Lembaga Perlindungan Anak (Children Protection Agency) and Komite Pendidikan Anak-Anak Kreatif Indonesia (Education Committee of Creative Indonesian Children) in Jakarta; Girli in Yogyakarta; and Kelompok Sadar (Awareness Group) in Surabaya, East Java.
“”In Bali, we have just set up the Committee Against Sexual Abuse (CASA), which will help those suffering from traumatic childhood experiences,”" Suryani said.
Across Asia, tens of thousands of children are pushed into the sex trade each year. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), at least one million children work as formal and informal prostitutes. In Asia, including Indonesia, practices of child prostitution and child sexual abuse have been on the rise.
In Bali, several villages, including Ban, Tianyar and Pedaha in Karang Asem, East Bali — one of the poorest regencies in Bali — have become popular among pedophiles for being safe places. In the Buleleng regency of North Bali, numerous pedophiles look for children in villages such as Lovina beach, Kalibukbuk, Kaliasem, Kayu Putih, Selata and Anturan.
“”Poverty is still blamed as the underlying reason for pedophiles operating in the areas. The majority of parents (of exploited children) work as cheap unskilled laborers or farmers, who have to spend most of their time in the field,”" said Suryani.
Rohman, a staff member at Yayasan Anak Kita Foundation, said pedophile cases in Bali were alarming. Between l992 and 2002, the foundation had discovered that 13 suspected pedophiles were actively operating in Bali, and there were at least 60 victims aged five years old to 13 years old who reported their stories of abuse. This number excludes other victims who have not yet come forward, Rohman said.
From data and information available on the subject, centers for pedophiles are located in the famous art village of Ubud along with other areas, such as Seminyak, Kuta, Lovina and Karangasem.
“”Some pedophiles may know each other and hold regular meetings in Kuta,”" said Rohman, who declined to name his sources. “”If I mentioned their names, they would be in danger.”"
A number of children and teenagers, he said, had disappeared for unknown reasons, and the foundation’s reports were not properly processed.
The foundation, which has conducted a comprehensive investigation into pedophilia since l998, said that l973 might have been the first time pedophiles arrived in Bali. “”They were disguised as tourists from Germany,”" the study said.
In the l980s, Kuta was a major destination for European pedophiles, especially those from Germany and France, the study said. Karangasem was their next target. Acting as generous and kind-hearted people, pedophiles won the hearts of locals by claiming to be “”foster fathers”" who sought needy children around Bali, and promised parents they would provide a better education and future for their children, the study said.
“”They were regarded as ‘Santa Clauses’ in those poor villages. Nobody had the courage to report their sexual misconduct toward children and students,”" Rohman said.
He said that to facilitate their illegal sexual activities, pedophiles bribed parents with money, food, other basic needs and household goods, while local village heads and police officials obtained various “”incentives”" in the form of donations, village improvement projects, health and education training and rental cars for police officers.
Lenient punishment and people’s lack of awareness on the dangers of pedophiles’ activities have encouraged irresponsible people to exploit local children.
Unless Indonesia enacts the necessary laws and regulations to protect its children, pedophiles from around the globe will be able to operate in Bali and other places across the nation.
DR WIDODO JUDARWANTO
FIGHT CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE AND PEDOPHILIA
JL TAMAN BENDUNGAN ASAHAN 5 JAKARTA PUSAT, JAKARTA INDONESIA 10210
PHONE : (021) 70081995 – 5703646
email : firstname.lastname@example.org,
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