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Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation

Indonesia


Trafficking

In mid-1997 hundreds of Indonesian women, most under 20 years of age, were in prostitution in Saudi Arabia. (Mien Sugandhi, Minister for Women’s Affairs in Indonesia reports, "Hundreds of RI’s Women Believed To Work As Prostitutes in Saudi Arabia," Kompas, 7 February 1997)

In 1996, 17 Indonesian women working as housemaids abroad were killed or died under mysterious circumstances and 46 others were tortured or sexually abused. (Women’s Solidarity report, "Seventeen maids have died abroad," Jakarta Post, 25 November 1997)

Mail Order Brides

Ethnic-Chinese women living in Indonesia are joining mail-order-bride services as a means to leave the country. The ethnic-Chinese minority has been living in fear since the riots following President Suharto’s resignation. Bobby Halim & Associates, consultants for immigration to Australia, has had its client load has jumped fivefold over the past couple of months. Other women are leaving on short-tern college course exchange programs or finding sweatshop jobs abroad. (Jesse Wong, "Ethnic-Chinese women seek to wed to flee fear, violence in Indonesia," Edited/Distributed by HURINet - The Human Rights Information Network, 21 July 1998)

Prostitution

A 1992 survey showed that one out of 10 prostituted persons was under age 17, and that one out of five of those older than that age said they took up prostitution before they reached 17. (Dario Agnote, "Sex trade key part of S.E. Asian economies, study says," Kyodo News, 18 August 1998)

The sex industry accounts for an estimated 1.2 billion dollars to 3.3 billion dollars in annual earnings, or between 0.8 and 2.4% of the country's GDP, the study said. In Jakarta alone, prostitution-related activities are estimated to be worth 91 million dollars annually. (Dario Agnote, "Sex trade key part of S.E. Asian economies, study says," Kyodo News, 18 August 1998)

There are between 140,000 and 230,000 prostituted persons in Indonesia (1993-1994 estimates). Prostituted persons are mainly adult women, but there are also male, transvestite and child prostitutes, both girls and boys. (International Labor Organization. Dario Agnote, "Sex trade key part of S.E. Asian economies, study says," Kyodo News, 18 August 1998)

There are at least 650,000 prostitutes in Indonesia. In 1998 there were 150,000 registered prostitutes compared to 72,000 in 1995. 30 percent are children. (Yogyakarta Free Children Society, Mohammad Farid, "Indonesian economic crisis boosts prostitution," Reuters, 26 July 1998)

There were 65,582 registered prostitutes in 1994. The highest estimate is 500,000 women in prostitution. (CATW - Asia Pacific, Trafficking in Women and Prostitution in the Asia Pacific)

About 200 prostituted women in Jakarta, Indonesia, protesting plans by the mayor to close down their complex carried signs stating "I did not want to become a prostitute. The economic difficulties have made me a prostitute." ("Indonesian prostitutes join wave of protests," Reuters, 2 July 1998)

Earnings from prostitution average $600 a month in Indonesia and are higher than in other unskilled jobs. (International Labor Organization, Elif Kaban, "UN labour body urges recognition of sex industry," Reuters, 18 August 1998)

Particularly because of the economic crises in Asia, women in Thailand and Indonesia are increasingly forced into prostitution as the only means of survival. ("Women Workers Are Last in, First Out," Associated Press, 30 April 1998)

In Indonesia the economic crisis has driven thousands of women into prostitution for economic survival. Although "streetwalkers" are prohibited in Jakarta, there is no law prohibiting the sale of sexual services. (Yogyakarta Free Children Society, Mohammad Farid, "Indonesian economic crisis boosts prostitution," Reuters, 26 July 1998)

The sex industry takes in US$ 1.2 - US$ 3.6 billion. (CATW - Asia Pacific, Trafficking in Women and Prostitution in the Asia Pacific)

The city of Surbaya, with tens of thousands of prostitutes, is the largest sex industry center in South East Asia, which consists of hectares and hectares of modest houses with large, plate-glass windows where bored girls sit waiting: "streets full of human aquariums". It is also a magnet for the divorced and dispossessed women of the strict Islamic villages. The sex industry serves as a source of women for prostitution in provincial towns, through a black market network of pimps. (Louise Williams, "Sex in the Cemetary," Sydney Morning Herald, 25 January 1997)

30% of the girls in Semarang, Indonesia who are homeless are forced into prostitution for survival. (University Diponegoro study, Nicholas D. Kristof "Asian Crisis Deals Setbacks to Women")

Indonesian women are being forced into prostitution as the economic crisis worsens say human rights groups. ("Indonesian mob torches prostitution complex," Reuters, 28 September 1998)

A red-light district in Jakarta was burned by a group of 100 citizens who would not tolerate its existence any longer. The area had been raided numerous times over the course of 15 years, but never closed down. No casualties occurred. ("Indonesian mob torches prostitution complex," Reuters, 28 September 1998)

Health and Well-Being

There are 12,000 to 31,000 people currently dying from AIDS every year in Indonesia, and half a million will be infected by 2000. Most women say they are in prostitution because they have been divorced and abandoned by men. Many divorcees are still young, having married in their teens and separated in their early 20s. Having lost their virginity they are of less value as second wives Most men refuse to wear condoms and if women insist, they accuse them of having a disease. (Louise Williams, "Sex in the Cemetery," Sydney Morning Herald, 25 January 1997)

Most men refuse to wear condoms and if women insist, the me accuse them of having a disease (Louise Williams, "Sex in the Cemetary," Sydney Morning Herald, 25 January 1997)

Case

One girl who was sold into prostitution by her family was locked up, starved and threatened by her captors. She tried to commit suicide, but the wounds were bandaged by her captors. (University Diponegoro study, Nicholas D. Kristof "Asian Crisis Deals Setbacks to Women")

Policy and Law

Localized bordello complexes, "localisasi," are managed under local government regulations. (CATW - Asia Pacific, Trafficking in Women and Prostitution in the Asia Pacific)

Official Response and Action

Indonesia will not recognize the sex industry as called for but the International Labor Organization, said Social Affairs Minister Justika Baharsyah in August 1998. "From a religious side, it can't be accepted...I personally disagree on the sex worker issue," said the Minister. "There is the question of morality. The government is finding ways to handle prostitution. In the social affairs ministry, we are handling rehabilitation (of prostitutes) with other ministries like manpower, religious affairs and education." ("Indonesia social minister disagrees on sex workers," Reuters, 20 August 1998)

Women were advised by Dr H. Soejoga, Health Ministry Director General for Medical Services, not to resort to prostitution after loosing their jobs due to the Asian economic crisis. ("Laid Off Workers Persuaded Not to Enter Prostitution," Antara News, 5 March 1998)

Indonesia has set up a telephone hotline for victims of rape from the rioting in Jakarta. Human Rights Groups have documented more than 100 cases of rape and sexual assault. (Associated Press, 28 June 1998)

The Australian government has funded a project in Surabaya, which aims to raise the self-esteem of women and girls in prostitution and arm them with information and confidence to protect themselves from AIDS and other STDs. (Louise Williams, "Sex in the Cemetary," Sydney Morning Herald, 25 January 1997)

Organized and Institutionalized Sexual Exploitation and Violence

625 women were raped and tortured between 1990-1997, sometimes by military personnel, in Aceh, Indonesia. The majority of the rapes occurred in 1990. Some of the 1,670 people listed as missing between 1990-1997 have been killed. ("600 ‘raped in Aceh over past seven years’," Edited/Distributed by HURINet - The Human Rights Information Network, 8 July 1998)

Security forces gang rape and torture women say women testifying before a parliamentary fact-finding mission in Aceh, Indonesia. Men in the area have been tortured, killed, and buried in mass graves. The people testifying said they did not fear the Aceh Freedom Movement, but feared military stationed in the region and called for troop removal. A local legislative assembly compiled a report citing 440 cases of violence against individuals. ("Women tell DPR mission about gang rapes," Edited/Distributed by HURINet - The Human Rights Information Network, 29 July 1998)

More than 150 Indonesian females, aged between 10 - 50 were systematically gang raped in front of their families in May 1998. At least 20 of the victims died, of suicide or murder after the assault. (Ariel Heryanto, "Call For Support," 31 July 1998)

Migrant Chinese Indonesians arrived in Malaysia in July 1998 as a result of the violence against them in Indonesia. Fathers have been forced to rape their daughters, and brothers to rape their sisters. The rapes are video recorded, and displayed on the Internet. Indonesians are pretending to be soldiers "putting red, green and blue crosses on houses"-red to encourage burning the house, green to encourage rape against the females, and blue to encourage stealing. At night they then commit these crimes. People are offering US$ 6 to rape a Chinese Indonesian. A Chinese university student is in the hospital in Singapore for operations to remove her uterus as a result of the damage done to her by being gang raped and sodomized. 5,000 Chinese Indonesians have died, and there is a suspected cover-up by Jakarta president Habibe. (Audra Lim, documenting personal communications, Institute of Noise and Vibration HVAC Research Programme, 17 July 1998)

In the morning of May 14, 1998, a series of violent incidents started to break out, and by mid-day the city of Jakarta and its surroundings were on fire. Thousands of commercial buildings, business offices, supermarkets, residential houses, public utilities, buses and private cars were burnt down or simply ransacked on the streets. Amidst the riots, widespread looting and torture took place. By June 9, 1998, humanitarian workers had catalogued 2,244 dead bodies (mostly burnt), 91 injured and 31 people missing. Most of the victims were ordinary people. The violence also involved a series of gang-rapes on Chinese women. As of July 3, 1998, 152 women were found who had been gang-raped, of whom 20 are dead. The government and military are accused of participating in a cover-up by suggesting that it was the urban poor who incited the violence against their neighbors. They are treating gang rapes as ordinary criminal activity rather than organized violence and terrorism. (Team of Volunteers for Humanitarian Causes, Father Sandyawan’s, "Condition of our shared life", speech to the US Congress, July 28,1998)

Women’s rights activists say mobs used rape as a "weapon of terror" during riots in May 1998, attacking and raping 168 women and girls, many from Indonesia's Chinese minority. Twenty women died, some in homes set afire; one of the victims was only 9 years old. Human rights groups and other groups filed a class action lawsuit against the government and security forces accusing them of failing to control the violence. Lawyer Ester Jusuf of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute said the groups are demanding $3.7 billion in compensation for victims of the rioting. The suit was filed against General Wiranto, the defense minister and armed forces commander, as well as several police chiefs. ("Activists protest Indonesia military," Associated Press, 17 July 1998)

168 women were raped during riots in May following the resignation of President Suharto. Of this number, 20 died during or after the assaults. Human Rights investigators presumed many other women had either fled the city or were too traumatized to report their rapes. Some had been silenced by the threats or by rumors of further attacks and rapes. The investigators themselves have been threatened. Other women have committed suicide, saying they had heard reports of additional rapes and sexual assaults in the weeks after the riots. Most attacks were directed against the Ethnic-Chinese, who have often been made scapegoats in times of conflict or hardship. The human rights workers said their investigation reinforced their belief that the rapes, some involving girls as young as nine years old, had been organized and coordinated in the same way as the looting and arson. "Rape crisis centre workers get threats," Straits Times, 21 July 1998)

The gang rape of ethnic-Chinese women in Indonesia during the May 1998 riots should be seen as a war crime, say Singapore women's groups. The groups have sent a letter to the Indonesian ambassador and are calling for discussion of the matter by ASEAN leaders. Regional governments should seek justice for the victims and help for their families to recover from the long-term effects of the trauma, as victims no longer live in a safe environment. Indonesian women have been talking openly about the rapes and want justice. (Braema Mathi, "Gang rapes in Indonesia," Straits Times Interactive, 27 July 1998)

The government should help gang rape victims of the May 1998 riots by protecting the victims, witnesses and volunteers, and ordering an inquiry into the riots and prosecuting the culprits said the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights. (Braema Mathi, "Gang rapes in Indonesia," Straits Times Interactive, 27 July 1998)

Official Response and Action

An independent national committee would be set up to investigate the rapes that happened during rioting in May of 1998 and report its findings to President B.J. Habibie, said Women's Affairs Minister Tutty Alawiyah. After meeting women's groups, in July 1998, Habibie condemned the rapes as "an inhuman episode in the history of the nation." ("Activists protest Indonesia military," Associated Press, 17 July 1998)

The rape of ethnic-Chinese women in the May 1998 riots in Indonesia was a result of the social gap as much as it was racially motivated said President B.J. Habibie. He said he knew of Chinese Indonesians who were not attacked because they contributed to the community and that the social gap between the Chinese minority and other Indonesians was caused by Dutch colonizers. ("Attacks on Chinese not planned," Straits Times, 31 July 1998)


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Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation
Donna M. Hughes, Laura Joy Sporcic, Nadine Z. Mendelsohn and Vanessa Chirgwin