Sat, Nov 03, 2012 - Page 9 News List

Girls kidnapped, trafficked on Facebook

The social media site’s popularity in Indonesia has made it a vehicle for predators to lure, abduct and sell girls into prostitution

By Margie Mason  /  AP, DEPOK, Indonesia

“I am angry and cannot accept what he did to me ... I was raped and beaten,” the lanky girl with shoulder-length black hair said.

The girl’s case made headlines last month when she was expelled after she tried to return to school. School officials claimed she had tarnished the school’s image. She has since been reinstated, but she no longer wishes to attend due to the stigma she faces.

Indonesian Education Minister Mohammad Nuh also came under fire after making remarks that not all girls who report such crimes are victims.

“They do it for fun, and then the girl alleges that it’s rape,” he said.

His response to the criticism — that it is difficult to prove whether sexual assault allegations are “real rapes” — drew more condemnation.

The publicity surrounding the story encouraged the parents of five other missing girls to come forward last month, saying their daughters also were victimized by people they met on Facebook. Two more girls were freed from the captors last month and are now seeking counseling.

A man who posed as a photographer on Facebook was recently arrested and accused of kidnapping and raping three teenage girls. Authorities say he lured them into meeting him with him by promising to make them models, and then locked them in a house. Police found dozens of photos of naked girls on his camera and laptop.

Another case involved a 15-year-old girl from Bogor. She was recently rescued by police after being kidnapped by her Facebook “friend” and held at a restaurant, waiting for someone to move her to another town where she would be forced into prostitution.

In some incidents, the victims themselves ended up recruiting other young girls after being promised money or luxuries such as mobile phones or new clothes.

Police are trying to get a step ahead of the criminals. Detective Lieutenant Ruth Yeni Qomariah from the Children and Women’s Protection unit in Surabaya said she posed as a teenager online and busted three men who used Facebook to kidnap and rape underage girls. She is searching for a fourth suspect.

“It has been getting worse as trafficking rings become more sophisticated and underage children are more easily targeted,” she said.

The man who abducted the Depok girl has not been found, and it is unclear what happened to the five other girls held at the house where she was raped.

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