Indonesia in Focus
Lampung Supplies Women for Sex Trade: Bandar Lampung, Sumatra, Indonesia
I totally deplore the trafficking of women. In an article recently, Lampung province is no longer just a transit point for human trafficking, but has become a supplier of women for the sex trade in Batam, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong, according to an activist.
Women’s Advocacy Commission executive director Siti Noor Laila said the province’s high unemployment rate and a lack of awareness of the problem had caused the province to become one of the main suppliers of sex workers after North Sumatra.
“And the number (of women being trafficked) is likely to increase this year. In 2005, there were 13 known human trafficking victims from Lampung, while 20 victims have already been found between January and May of this year. And these are just those who have been rescued. The number of cases that has gone unnoticed could number in the hundreds,” Laila said Tuesday.
She said traffickers used a number of different methods to lure victims. One of the most common methods is for traffickers to pose as employment agents recruiting women to work overseas.
Some of the victims are sent overseas to Malaysia, Singapore or Hong Kong, while many others are trafficked to Batam in Riau Islands province, via Jambi and Bengkulu provinces, Laila said.
Lampung Manpower Office deputy head Haryo Satmiko said an unemployment rate of 57.22 percent in Lampung, or at least 500,000 people out of work, made many women eager to find jobs overseas, putting them in danger of being targeted by human traffickers.
Haryo said the public had to become more aware of the proper procedures for working overseas to avoid falling victim to traffickers. He said many of the people looking to work overseas had little education or experience and were easy prey for middlemen.
Supervision of migrant workers is also slack and cases of document forgery rampant, he said.
“The number of (trafficking) victims from Lampung is considered high. People must be informed of the dangers of human trafficking, which is a violation of basic human rights,” Haryo said.
Lampung Women’s Empowerment Bureau chief Elya Muchtar said Lampung’s geographical position as a buffer area for Jakarta made it more liable to human trafficking. Elya said more than 100 trafficking cases had been discovered in Lampung, but many more went unnoticed because crooked agents sought their victims directly, sometimes going door-to-door in Bandarlampung city and South Lampung, Tanggamus, East Lampung and Tulangbawang regencies. The agents usually target women between the ages of 13 and 30 from poor families.
“Many of the trafficking victims who end up in Batam come from Lampung. But they don’t have Lampung ID cards, but rather IDs from other areas to conceal their identities,” Elya said.
The Lampung provincial administration is trying to fight back, including educating the public about the dangers of the trade and issuing a decree on a 2005-2009 action plan to combat human trafficking. The administration also has formed a human trafficking task force, comprising representatives of the government and related agencies.
Authorities and organizations have been able to rescue some of the women caught up in the trade.
The Women’s Advocacy Commission is currently handling a trafficking case in Panjang, Bandarlampung. “We have placed the victim, CN, 14, in protective custody. She was held captive and raped. She was able to escape before being sent to Batam to be sold,” Laila said.
And at the end of last year, police in Bandarlampung rescued 24 girls who were to be trafficked to Batam.
Unfortunately, for every girl and woman rescued, there are many more who disappear into the sex trade.
Oyos Saroso H.N.
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