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Indonesian court clears teenage rape victim jailed for abortion

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By Reuters

JAKARTA (Reuters) – A 15-year-old girl jailed for six months for terminating her pregnancy after being raped by her brother has been cleared by a higher court in a case that spotlights Indonesia’s tough anti-abortion laws.

Indonesia, which usually limits abortion to cases of a medical emergency for the mother or the foetus, permits it in rape cases during the first 40 days of a pregnancy, while the penalty for illegal abortions is up to 10 years in jail.

“The girl has been acquitted of all charges,” Hasoloan Sianturi, a spokesman for the high court in the province of Jambi, on the island of Sumatra, told Reuters.

“The judge decided on Monday that while she did have an abortion, the circumstances forced her to do so and she had been raped by her brother.”

But the girl’s mother was still being investigated over whether she had helped her daughter to have the abortion, the spokesman added, although that case had not yet come to court.

The brother is serving a two-year sentence for assaulting a minor.

Women’s rights groups had condemned the initial decision by a lower court, saying it reinforced an existing culture of blaming the victim, and rights group Amnesty International also called for her release.

Media said police launched an investigation after a foetus was found in an area with palm plantations.

(Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor and Fransiska Nangoy; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)