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HomeWorld NewsIndonesian court sentences teacher to death for raping 13 students

Indonesian court sentences teacher to death for raping 13 students

You’re a fifteen-year-old girl, coming home from the only school your family could afford to send you. But when you come home, it doesn’t feel like home; you feel different. On one of your first days home, you decide to tell your parents what’s been happening at school. 

West Java police began to investigate the case of Henry Wirawan after their daughter returned home on holiday and admitted she had just given birth. They arrested him last May when the parents of a victim went to the police. 

Wirawan initially dodged both the death penalty and chemical castration back at his original sentencing in February. Today, an Indonesian court handed a death sentence to Herry Wirawan, a teacher who raped 13 of his female students, impregnating eight victims. He got sentenced to life in prison instead. Indonesian officials, including the country’s child protection minister, supported requests for the death penalty. However, the nation’s human rights commission said it was not appropriate.

Indonesia has the world’s biggest Muslim majority country. Also, it has tens of thousands of Islamic boarding schools and other religious schools that are often the only way for the children of poorer families to get an education. The victims’ teacher, who was supposed to be teaching them arithmetic, writing, and culture, was instead sexually grooming the 13 girls between 12 and 16 years old. It seems as though Wirawan almost targeted working at an Islamic boarding school, with his intention set before even getting hired—working for the voiceless, to take advantage of them. Mr. Wirawan impregnated eight of his victims and managed to injure some of his victims from the rapes.

Officials said many victims did not report their rapes for fear of reliving the traumatic experience. Their parents had trusted that the boarding school was guiding their children to become excellent and religious people.

Back in 2016, an Indonesian court sentenced the leader of a gang of men and boys who raped and murdered a schoolgirl to death in a case that prompted harsher punishments for attacks on children, including a regulation to allow for chemical castration of child offenders.

Unsatisfied with Wirawan’s original sentence, prosecutors who had called for the death penalty filed an appeal. The prosecutors were seeking either the death penalty or chemical castration, noting the intensity of the crimes. The judge told the court, “Wirawan was proven guilty…of the crimes of purposely committing violence, forcing intercourse on more than one victim repeatedly,” 

Ira Mambo, Herry’s lawyer, refused to comment on if there would be an appeal, citing that he needs to see the full ruling from the court.

Wirawan owes his victims over $300 million in restitution alongside his death sentence. As a result, they confiscated all of Wirawan’s assets. Every one of his 13 victims will receive various nominal. The government will absorb any additional restitution. The Bandung High Court panel of Judges ordered that the nine children of the rape of Henry Wirawan get treated by the West Java Provincial Government, where they will carry out a maintenance check periodically. 

Dedeh Marlina, a 42-year-old housewife, living near the school where Herry taught, had said she was relieved the perpetrator had gotten stopped. Still, the damage had already been done,  “I know most of them came from poor families in remote areas…unfortunately, they are now carrying the burden of what happened,” she said.



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