Police in Tarakan, North Kalimantan have arrested a 22-year-old man suspected of molesting 48 girls from an Islamic boarding school.
The suspect, 22-year-old RD, is not an employee at the school but would often assist and partake in activities there, earning the school's trust to look after their children.
"Mostly, the perpetrator [molested] the victims by telling them that they wouldn't feel pain when they get circumcised. Because they didn't understand, the victims agreed," Tarakan Women and Children's Protection Agency Head Maryam said yesterday.
Of some 200 female students at the school, 48 say they have been molested by RD.
"From the 48 children, five were molested repeatedly by the perpetrator. Some were molested two to three times, some only once," Maryam said, adding that the five are now heavily traumatized and require intensive counseling.
RD was arrested on March 8. To the police, he confessed to having molested girls at the school since 2016, and that he had himself lost count of how many victims he had abused.
RD may face at least five years in prison for each count of molesting a minor.
In February, a religious studies teacher in West Java was sentenced to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of raping 13 of his students.
Female circumcision – also known as female genital mutilation or FGM – has been practiced for generations across Indonesia, which is the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, and is considered a rite of passage by many.
The United Nations condemns the practice and the government once sought to ban it, but opposition from religious authorities and its widespread acceptance mean FGM has been impossible to stamp out.