Reuters International

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday called for severe punishment for a group of men charged with raping and killing a schoolgirl, a case that has angered rights groups who say the government is not doing enough to protect women and children.

Sexual violence is prevalent in Southeast Asia's most populous country, but gang rape is unusual.

"We all grieve for (her) tragic passing," Widodo said on Twitter. "Arrest and punish the perpetrators as severely as possible."

The president's tweet comes more than a month after the rape and murder of the 14-year-old took place on the western island of Sumatra.

"This case represents the issue that sexual crimes still receive minimal attention," the national commission for women's protection from violence said in a statement.

"The state must show a sense of urgency...and return a sense of security to women."

The attack, reminiscent of the 2012 fatal gang rape in Delhi of a female university student, has shocked many Indonesians and sparked calls on social media for a halt to sexual violence.

Police in Bengkulu, where the attack took place, said seven minors were on trial, five adults were being investigated and two were on the run.

(Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editin by Nick Macfie)

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