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Sexual Assault on Irish Traveler Deals Blow to Sabang’s Tourism Ambitions


Banda Aceh, TAG. Authorities fear an attempted sexual assault on an Irish tourist on the island of Weh will be a severe blow to developing tourism in Sabang.
Helmi Ali, head of culture and tourism for the Sabang municipal government, said he was upset to hear two men had allegedly sexually abused Sarah Winter, 28, in the tourism area Gapang on Monday afternoon. 


“I am not only disappointed but also very upset because this case happened when I was promoting the beauty of Weh Island to make foreign tourists come to Sabang,” he told The Jakarta Globe. 


“I’m worried that the number of tourists will decrease because the case is high profile. It could deal a heavy blow to tourism development in Sabang.” 


Helmi said Sarah’s twin sister, Sally, had told military police Sarah was alone at the Lumba Lumba Bungalow in the Gapang tourism area, 20 kilometers west of Sabang, while she was at the beach. 


“All of a sudden, two people arrived dressed in camouflage,” Helmi said. “One of them was asking Sarah to have a date and said, ‘You and me make love, yes.’ Of course the victim declined the invitation and she hurriedly entered the cottage and tried to shut the door. 


“Both perpetrators prevented the victim from closing the door. Then one of them pushed her on the floor and pinned her down. Sarah managed to escape after biting his hands. She immediately ran outside, yelling for help.” 


The owner of the bungalow and a few tourists and residents came to Winter’s rescue when they heard her cries for help. The two attackers had fled, he said. 


Sabang Police Chief Imam Thobroni said the woman reported the assault to the local military police because of the attackers were wearing fatigues. 


“Is there any indication the perpetrators were members of the Armed Forces [TNI]? We do not know yet,” he said. 


“The two women reported the case to the military police because the attackers were wearing camouflaged clothing.” 


Helmi said he hoped the case would be thoroughly investigated so that it would serve as a lesson and never happen again. 


He said some foreign tourists had previously said they did not feel comfortable in Sabang. 


“I thought the conversations about indecent acts against foreign tourists in Sabang were only gossip,” Helmi said. 


“But this incident shows it seems to be real. 


“This is a big case that needs attention from all parties and there must be commitment from all parties in Sabang if we want to develop tourism.” 


Iman said security for the sisters and tourists would be stepped up. 


“We also will coordinate with the Dandim [military district] and Denpom [military police detachment] of Sabang to pursue the perpetrators,” he said. 


According to Helmi, the number of foreign tourists coming to Sabang has been increasing, reaching an average of 300 a month this year, although it declined in March following the antiterrorism operations in Aceh that began in late February. 


Helmi said tourism numbers seemed to be bouncing back this month. 


Foreign tourist arrivals to Sabang totaled more than 4,000 people in 2009.[]
Sexual Assault on Irish Traveler Deals Blow to Sabang’s Tourism Ambitions Sexual Assault on Irish Traveler Deals Blow to Sabang’s Tourism Ambitions Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on April 15, 2010 Rating: 5

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