Girl’s story shows rising sexual abuse using Facebook in Indonesia

MARGIE MASON

When a 14-year-old girl received a Facebook friend request from an older man she didn't know, she accepted it out of curiosity. Her click led to a brutal story that has repeated itself in Indonesia, a country with a growing obsession for social media.

The junior high student was smitten by the online flattery of the man, a 24-year-old. They exchanged phone numbers, he convinced her to meet in a mall, and she found him just as charming in person. They agreed to meet again. After telling her mom she was going to visit a sick girlfriend, she climbed into the man's mini-van near her home in Depok, on the outskirts of Jakarta. The man, who called himself Yogi, drove her an hour to the town of Bogor, West Java, she told The Associated Press. There, he locked her in a small room with at least five other girls aged 14 to 17. She was drugged and raped repeatedly.

After one week, her captor told her she was being sold and shipped to the faraway island of Batam, known for its brothels and child sex tourism that caters to men from Singapore. Eventually, unable to arrange money for Batam, he dumped her.

So far this year, 27 of the 129 children reported missing to Indonesia's National Commission for Child Protection are believed to have been abducted after meeting their captors on Facebook, said the group's chairman, Arist Merdeka Sirait — the figure for such cases for 2011 was 18. One of the 27 has been found dead. Since the Depok girl was found on September 30, there have been seven such cases.

Websites that track social media say Indonesia has nearly 50 million people signed up for Facebook, making it one of the world's top users after the US. Jakarta was recently named the most active Twitter city.

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