In Brief

Indonesian woman freed after 15 years in shaman’s cave

Victim was abducted at the age of 13 by healer who claimed to have magical powers

An Indonesian woman abducted by an elderly shaman at the age of 13 has been rescued by police 15 years later.

On Sunday, police responded to reports of a woman being held captive by an 83-year-old man named Jago in the remote village of Galumpang, in Central Sulawesi province.

Under interrogation, the self-proclaimed healer admitted to knowing the woman’s whereabouts, directing police to a rocky outcrop near the village.

There, they discovered a 28-year-old woman, identified in police reports as ‘HS’, hidden in a narrow gap between the rocks.

She told police that she met Jago when her family brought her to him for treatment at the age of 13, the BBC reports.

Soon after, he lured her away from home and abducted her. For the next 15 years, “she was brought to the man's house at night but during the day was forced to stay in the small prison-like cave” (above).

A local told the Jakarta Post that Jago had convinced his victim that he was possessed by a spirit.

District police commander M. Iqbal Alqudusy said that police “suspected that Jago was holding HS to fulfill his sexual needs”, he said. HS told detectives that the shaman had sexually abused her repeatedly while “possessed”, making her drink an abortifacient potion when she missed a period.

To explain her absence, Jago told the girl’s family that she had gone to Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital city, to look for work. To support this account, he is said to have presented her parents with food parcels purportedly sent by their daughter out of her wages.

The woman’s parents said that they had long ago given up hope of seeing their daughter again. However, the Jakarta Post reports that one member of the family allegedly knew of HS’s ordeal all along - her older sister, who is married to Jago’s son.

It was supposedly this connection which led to HS’s discovery. A village resident told reporters that a neighbour contacted the police after she overheard the woman threaten to reveal her sister’s whereabouts during a row with her husband.

Jago has been charged under sex abuse and child protection laws, the BBC reports.

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