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Human Trafficking, Adaptation, & COVID-19

HT and COVID update

Human traffickers are clever and adaptive, changing with their evolving landscapes to keep their profits ever-increasing through the exploitation of human beings. The response must be equally smart and flexible, and this is why coalitions and networks are key in the fight against human trafficking.

By nature, coalitions are most prepared to flex. Dark Bali is the facilitating organization of a coalition of anti-trafficking organizations across Indonesia, and our work has always required creative innovation and flexibility as we ask our partners what they need and develop a quick, coordinated responses based on their answers. This is the DNA of a functioning coalition. Our programs and projects may require a long-term investment, but they are always responsive to the data that we collect from our community.

COVID-19 took everyone by surprise as our plans and programs came to a screeching halt. Dark Bali’s experience was no different. After the shock of the abrupt change wore off, it became clear that this was a time to adapt rather than to freeze. So, we began to ask our partners what they were seeing among their beneficiaries across Indonesia. What had changed? What were their needs? How could we support them moving forward?

The answers were consistent among our coalition members:

  • For those doing prevention: economic desperation is growing, and there is a need to educate potential victims about how to look for employment in a safe way and to provide food support to keep the unemployed, desperately poor from falling prey to opportunistic traffickers.
  • For those involved in intervention or victim outreach: the lockdown has shut down the red-light districts, and while many sex workers have returned home, sex trafficking victims are not able to leave or to work. They are not being fed, and there is a need for emergency food and basic supplies.
  • For those involved in aftercare: safe houses cannot take in more residents even if they have space because of COVID-19 fears. There is a need transitional housing to quarantine survivors before bringing them into the safe houses as residents.

With this data, Dark Bali was able to quickly draft a plan for an emergency COVID-19 relief project on behalf of our partners around the country. In 2020, $10,000 was raised (all from individual donors!), and money was sent to our partners as small grants for their individual projects.

Serving the organizations that are doing the heavy lifting of prevention, intervention, and reintegration in the anti-trafficking sector of Indonesia is our mission because we believe that this is the best way that we can move toward our vision to end sex trafficking in the country. We amplify Indonesian voices to participate in the global anti-trafficking arena where they have been largely missing, we funnel need resources and professional training to them and create networks within the country, and we respond to their needs and priorities as they identify them because we believe that they know best what is needed in their communities. While we will never have the financial power of a human trafficking syndicate, we are certain that we have more passion. And we can be just as quick to evolve and answer the question, “What is needed now?”


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