Police in Bogor, West Java have launched an investigation into allegations that lenders forcibly took a woman's grandkids as collateral after her debt for medical bills mounted.
Fifty-eight-year-old Mardiyah recently borrowed money from a woman identified by her initial M in order to be able to pay for her daughter's medical bills, according to a lawyer from a legal aid institute who is representing Mardiyah.
"After [Mardiyah] received the money, one of her grandsons, who is 5, was brought home by the lender for what appears to be [collateral]. They told him that he was just sleeping over at M's house," Kusnadi, a lawyer from the Cibinong chapter of the Indonesian Advocates Association (Peradi) said yesterday.
The child was with M from mid-July to early August. M did not return him to Mardiyah even after his mother died from her undisclosed disease.
Several days later, M went to see Mardiyah along with another woman, who is identified by her initial N, who also lent money to her.
Mardiyah was made to sign a debt contract saying she owed the two women around IDR20 million (US$1,392), with another one of Mardiyah's grandchildren, a 10-year-old girl, entered as collateral as well.
With the two small children in M and N's care, Mardiyah's concerned neighbors put her in touch with Peradi, who then brought the matter to the local police for suspected exploitation of minors.
"Praise God, after a mediation session with the Bogor Police, Mardiyah's grandkids were returned to her," Kusnadi said, noting that the lenders openly made threats against Mardiyah's life in front of the police.
The Bogor Police said that the case is still under investigation, and no charges have been officially filed yet.