Indonesia is primarily a source, but also a transit and destination country for human trafficking. UNICEF estimates that 100,000 women and children are trafficked annually for commercial sexual exploitation in Indonesia and abroad, 30 percent of the female prostitutes in Indonesia are below 18, and 40,000-70,000 Indonesian children are victims of sexual exploitation. The East Java Children’s Protection Agency estimates that at least 100,000 women and children are trafficked annually from, through, and to East Java.
Indonesian women and children are trafficked for sexual and labor exploitation in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, and the Middle East. A significant number of Indonesian women voluntarily migrate to work as domestic servants but are later coerced into abusive conditions. Some Indonesian women are recruited by false promises of employment and are later coerced into prostitution or forced labor. Ethnic Chinese women and teenage girls in the West Kalimantan district are recruited as mail-order bridges for men in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Indonesian women from the Riau Islands, Bali, and Lombok are used for sex tourists from Malaysia and Singapore.
Indonesia is a destination country for women and children who are trafficked from the People’s Republic of China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Uzbekistan, the Netherlands, Poland, Venezuela, Spain, and Ukraine for sexual exploitation.
Indonesia has a significant amount of internal trafficking of victims who are trafficked from rural to urban areas for sexual and labor exploitation. The NGO, Abdi Ahsi, reported that 3,000 women per year were trafficked from rural East Java to Surabaya.
There are many causes of human trafficking in Indonesia. UNICEF argues that the lack of birth registration increases the vulnerability to trafficking. About 60 percent of children who are under five years old do not have birth certificates; about half are not registered anywhere.
The Indonesian Government
The Indonesian Government was placed in Tier 2 in the 2007 U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report for not fully complying with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but making significant efforts to do so. There are reports of military members, police, soldiers and some government officials who are complicit in trafficking.9
Indonesia passed a comprehensive anti-trafficking bill in April 2007. The bill criminalizes debt bondage, labor exploitation, sexual exploitation, and transnational and internal trafficking. Penalties range from three to 15 years of imprisonment. The bill also contains provisions to prosecute corporate entities and government officials involved in trafficking. Penalties under the Child Protection Act for child trafficking are three to 15 years of imprisonment.
In 2006, the Japanese government arrested 78 suspected traffickers, prosecuted 17 cases, and convicted 15 traffickers with penalties ranging from one to seven years and suspended sentences. There were two prosecutions for labor trafficking in 2006.
The Indonesian Government increased efforts, at the national and local levels, to protect victims of trafficking in Indonesia and abroad; however, available victim services are overwhelmed by the large number of trafficking victims. The Indonesian government supports shelters for trafficking victims in Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Singapore. The Indonesian Government does not adequately identify all its trafficking victims; some victims found in prostitution have been treated as criminals and deported.
The Indonesian Government collaborates with NGOs and international organizations to raise awareness. The Women's Ministry conducted awareness-raising efforts in 16 provinces and sponsored a televised public service announcement on private national television stations. The government also distributed child sex tourism materials in Bali and Batam.
The 2005 MOU between the Governments of Indonesia and Malaysia allows Malaysian employers to confiscate passports from its migrant workers. This MOU is widely recognized as facilitating involuntary servitude.
The U.S. Department of State recommends that Indonesia make greater efforts to prosecute and convict public officials who profit from or are involved in trafficking. It is essential that the government implement a migrant manpower recruitment and placement system that incorporates measures to protect workers, rather than benefiting exploitative manpower agencies and employers. The government should also greatly increase its budget for the prevention of trafficking as well as the repatriation, treatment and rehabilitation of victims, relying less on international donors.