|Millions of Local Workers Are Trafficking Victims: US Report
Almost half of Indonesian overseas workers — or three million people — are victims of human trafficking, according to an annual report released on Tuesday by the US State Department.
“Indonesia is a major source country … for women, children and men who are subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution and forced labor,” according to the 2010 US Trafficking in Persons report.
The report, now in it 10th year, lists Indonesia as a Tier-2 country for trafficking, meaning the government does not fully comply with standards set by the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Tier-2 countries, however, are “making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.”
Tier 3 is the lowest rank, with 13 countries, including Burma and North Korea, at the bottom of the scale.
Citing figures compiled by Migrant Care, a local nongovernmental organization, the report said that about 43 percent of Indonesia’s overseas workers were victims of trafficking. It also said that “the number of Indonesian women who are raped while working as domestic workers in the Middle East is on the rise.”
The report cited the International Organization for Migration saying that labor recruiters are often complicit in the ill treatment of workers, “leading both male and female workers into debt bondage.”
The report gave several recommendations for Indonesia, including reforming the labor export system to reduce the vulnerabilities facing migrant workers.
Traffickers employ a variety of methods to attract victims, including promises of well-paying jobs and establishing sham marriages to circumvent immigration laws, the report said.
Once in a country, it said, overseas workers are controlled through threats of violence and rape, confiscation of passports, pressure placed on families back in Indonesia and back-loaded employment contracts, which are tantamount to debt bondage.
The report said some traffickers also forged partnerships with school officials to recruit young men and women into vocational programs that are fronts for forced labor.
It also criticized rampant prostitution in Indonesia and the involvement of police in brothels and other prostitution fronts that force women and children into the trade. It cited the Dolly district in Surabaya, one of the largest red-light districts in Asia, as a problem area, and also said Indonesian women were frequently forced into prostitution in Malaysia, Singapore and the Middle East.
Efforts to protect potential victims remain “uneven and inadequate,” the report said, despite ongoing government initiatives. A comprehensive 2007 anti-trafficking law is sufficient to curb trafficking, the report said, but its enforcement has been patchy.
Arum Ratnawati, from the International Labor Organization in Jakarta, said the government had not reached the most vulnerable groups, especially young women from rural areas. “It is hard to reach them, but it can be done.”
Rudy Purboyo, an official with the State Ministry for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, said the government had established task forces in 17 provinces, while also setting aside a new budget allocation of Rp 3.36 billion ($366,000) to combat trafficking through the Coordinating Ministry for People’s Welfare.
“We are aware that this is a tough job but we are working to combat trafficking,” Rudy said.
June 15, 2010