Bandung. A man claiming to be a shamanic healer, or dukun, who police believe sexually abused 15 patients in Bandung, West Java, has been arrested, the city’s police chief said on Tuesday.
“The suspect acknowledged treating patients as a dukun. Among the [alleged] victims are 15 people he examined,” said police chief Comr. Angesta Romano Yoyol, as reported by Antara.
The suspect, who has been identified as Ari Mulyana, 23, was arrested at his home in the Dangdeur area of Sukarasa village, in Bandung’s Sukasari district.
Police say Ari was doing brisk business in his practice as a traditional healer, claiming to be able to cure a wide variety of diseases. “The suspect had been carrying on like this for five months, and he had lots of customers, too,” Angesta said.
However, the police chief added, the suspect was “not a real dukun.”
Police say the allegations of abuse first came to light when a 16-year-old victim, identified only by the initials E.Q., reported the traditional healer to the police on Jan. 26.
“From that report we conducted an investigation and subsequently arrested the perpetrator at his residence,” Angesta said.
The suspect admitted to police of having molested 15 women whose ages range between 14 and 29-years-old, and who, authorities say, were subjected to a range of abuse, including being forced, in local euphemistic parlance, to have “husband-wife” relations with the purported healer.
Although Ari ran an occult healing practice from his house, most of the alleged abuse is said to have occurred in the women’s own homes.
So far, only six of the 15 women that Ari has allegedly confessed to sexually abusing have come forward to report their experiences, police say. They are urging anyone who has further information to cooperate with the investigation.
Police say they also secured ritual implements as evidence of the alleged crimes, including nails, wire, finger rings set with red and blue gems, incense, as well as clothing used by Ari and his patients.
The suspect reportedly admitted to using the nails and wire for a slight-of-hand trick in which he appeared to have pulled the objects from his body — thereby convincing his patients of his supposed supernatural powers. He then lured the women into a hypnotized state in which they were susceptible to obey his commands, Angesta said.
Ari, however, maintains that his sexual relations with the women were consensual.
“It was just as they liked it,” he said, as reported by Merdeka.com
He also maintains to have descended from a line of dukuns, originally from Banten, capable of performing healing rituals.
He is currently being held in detention at a Bandung police station, pending further investigation. Police say they plan to charge Ari with criminal sexual abuse, as well as violations of the child protection law, for which, if convicted, he may face between five years and 15 years in prison.
Police have not said whether they also plan to press charges against Ari for impersonating a dukun.
Cases of sexual assault under the guise of traditional healing are rife in Indonesia, especially in remote areas where dukuns are preferred over medical doctors, or for procedures such as abortions, which are heavily restricted by law.
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