This article contains descriptions of sexual and animal abuse.
Authorities are investigating three children in Indonesia after an 11-year-old boy died two weeks after he was forced to have sex with a cat, an act recorded by the perpetrators in a video that went viral. The boy’s death sent shockwaves around the country, then anger at the response of one local official, who stated it’s “normal” for kids to have sex with animals.
Police in Indonesia’s West Java province, where the incident took place, told the media on Tuesday that investigators have zeroed in on three unnamed minors for their potential role leading to the death of the victim, referred to as “FH” in the police statement. Officials have said they believe FH’s death is connected to the bullying seen in the viral video, wherein the victim was stripped and forced to have intercourse with a cat.
FH’s parents told the media last week that they had spoken to their son after they saw the viral video, after which he admitted that he was beaten up and forced to rape the cat. FH’s mother added that soon after, FH started complaining of a sore throat, and stopped eating food or drinking water. He was taken to hospital on July 15.
FH died on July 17 in a hospital in the city of Tasikmalaya after three days of hospitalisation. Adi Widodo, the head of the hospital where FH was admitted, told the media that the victim succumbed to health complications after complaining of sore throat for weeks and refusing to eat food.
Officials have yet to determine what exactly led to his health issues, or whether his death was directly linked to the crime weeks earlier. An investigation by the Komisi Perlindungan Anak Indonesia (KPAI), the Child Protection Commission of Indonesia, found that the video was created at the end of June, after which the victim’s behaviour and health began to decline. Jasra Putra, the commissioner of KPAI, told press that the viral video caused the boy immense psychological shock, which led to his declining health.
The minors have not been detained due to their age, though they are being investigated under the country’s juvenile justice system. It’s unclear what charges the minors would face, but the country’s laws dictate that children under 12 are protected from harsh punishments like the death penalty or life imprisonment.
The video and death sent shockwaves across Indonesia, but public sentiment has now shifted to anger over the apathetic response of local officials. Over the weekend, the vice governor of West Java, Uu Ruzhanul Ulum, caused uproar as he met the victim’s family, then told journalists that it’s “normal” for kids to have sex with animals.
“When we were that age, of course there was bullying,” he said. “Even a friend of mine [had sex] with a bull in [the sub-district of Tasikmalaya]. My neighbour had sex with their chicken when they were around primary school age. It’s just kids joking around. It’s normal.”
This week, Ulum retracted the statement and apologised, saying he was just speaking of his own childhood experience.
“What I said when I was joking with my media colleagues was that it’s just normal,” Ulum clarified. “[Having sex with animals is] actually not allowed, even though I said it was a normal thing.”
A 2020 UN report found that two in three children in Indonesia have experienced different forms of violence, with high chances of perpetrators being their friends or peers. KPAI recorded over 100 suicides related to bullying in 2018.
Putra told VICE World News that crimes against children and by children are on the rise in Indonesia. “This nature of bullying shouldn’t have been perpetrated at such a young age,” he said, adding that the rising violence was physical, sexual and psychological in nature.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, help is available. Call 1-800-273-8255 to speak with someone now or text START to 741741 to message with the Crisis Text Line.
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