Child protection and women’s rights activists in Indonesia on Wednesday condemned the gruesome murder of a 16-year-old girl, who was allegedly slain by her brothers in what is being described as a case of honor killing.
The victim of the attack, identified as Rosmini, was killed last Saturday after she told her family about having had sex with a relative, police in South Sulawesi province said.
She was allegedly stabbed many times by her brothers, Rahman bin Darwis, 30, and Suprianto bin Darwis, 20, with a machete and a spear at their home in Bantaeng regency, police said.
The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) called for the maximum punishment for those responsible in the girl’s killing.
“Violence is certainly different from upholding family honor. We ask that the perpetrators be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and be sentenced to life,” said Jasra Putra, KPAI commissioner for civil rights and child participation.
Rosmini’s two siblings are in custody and have been charged as suspects in her murder, Bantaeng police said.
“Before she was killed, she admitted to have had sexual relations with a cousin,” Sandri Ersha, a spokesman for police in the regency, told BenarNews, adding that the family’s feeling of shame led to the alleged attack.
“At first the family thought Rosmini was a victim of sorcery, because no man wanted to marry her,” Sandri said.
After the killing, the suspects attacked the cousin and two other men who were passing by their house, police alleged. Following a two-hour negotiation with police, the family finally released the three men who were injured.
Bantaeng police chief Wawan Sumantri said the brothers were charged with premeditated murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.
“Investigators are still questioning them,” Wawan told BenarNews.
Sitti Ramlah, who heads the Office for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection (PPPA) in Bantaeng, said the family had not revealed the circumstances that led to the killing.
“They are still hysterical. A doctor said Rosmini’s mother was depressed because of the events,” Sitti told BenarNews. “We have not been able to question them further.”
KPAI’s Jasra said violence against children in traditional settings remained a concern.
“There are still many cases of child violence for customary reasons, including in Bantaeng where child marriages are prevalent. The government has not been able to curb such practices,” Jasra told BenarNews.
At least 1,728 cases of violence against children that involved religious or cultural motives occurred nationwide between 2011 and 2019, according to data from KPAI. Indonesia does not appear to keep statistics on honor killings.
Siti Aminah Tardi, a member of the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan), said the attack that took Rosmini’s life underscored the need to end gender- and honor-based violence.
“This is an honor or shame killing. This can’t be separated from the patriarchal culture that places women as a source of morality in society,” Siti told BenarNews.
“Details of the alleged sexual relations have not been revealed fully. Was the girl dating his cousin or was she sexually assaulted,” asked Siti, adding that Rosmini’s cousin, who is 45, could be prosecuted under the child protection law if he had sex with her.
Sex with a minor aged 17 years or younger is a crime in Indonesia.