A 24-year-old man, identified by his initials HN, has been arrested by police for allegedly sexually harassing a teenage girl aboard the KRL Commuterline train by rubbing his crotch against her.
Jakarta Metro Police Spokesman Argo Yuwono today confirmed the arrest and said that HN is still under investigation.
Police say the incident happened on Sunday evening, when the victim — who is 13 years old — took the train with her mother from Tanah Abang station in Central Jakarta to Depok, West Java. At the time, HN was in the same carriage as the victim.
“[The suspect] initially touched the victim’s behind. Because the passengers were crammed inside the train, the victim didn’t realize [what was happening] at the beginning, until he started rubbing his genitalia against her behind,” Argo told Detik.
The girl then screamed, and HN was apprehended by other passengers and security guards. Her mother then filed a police report against the suspect.
According to Argo, HN has sexually harassed women on the KRL on five occasions before he was caught. Police have yet to announce charges against him.
Sexual harassment has long been a problem on Jakarta’s KRL Commuterline trains, as evidenced by the existence of women-only carriages that were introduced by the train company in their bid to combat the problem. The same policy has also been implemented for TransJakarta bus and MRT Jakarta trains, though critics say that segregating women on public transportation does more to normalize sexual harassment than protect women.
Last year, PT Kereta Commuter Indonesia (PT KCI), the operators of the KRL Commuterline, said they have been deploying undercover security officers to catch sex offenders on their trains for some time. Though hard data was lacking in determining the effectiveness of the undercover officers, PT KCI said the strategy has had some success as they recalled one undercover officer catching an alleged abuser onboard the train.
A 2014 survey found that women felt Jakarta’s public transportation system was one of the most dangerous in the world. A good deal of the capital’s public transport infrastructure has been updated since then, but how much attitudes towards sexual harassment have changed over that same period is much harder to say.