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Sex Trafficking Intervention

The Issue

Intervention is the very narrow focus of investigating suspected cases of child trafficking, rescuing victims, addressing their immediate needs, and prosecuting perpetrators. This part of combating modern-day slavery is closely linked with local law enforcement and government structures, though in many places non-government organizations (NGOs) assist law enforcement to maximize effectiveness and reach.

Young girl praying

Every child deserves an opportunity to live a safe, love-filled life.

The Weakest Link

In Bali and in the rest of Indonesia, intervention is the weakest link of the anti-trafficking chain. This is largely due to the fact that rescue relies on government recognition of the problem, police cooperation, facilitation of arrests, and prosecution of lawbreakers. The amount of government resources dedicated to rescuing victims is often directly related to the intensity of public pressure to make arrests and prosecute perpetrators.

Rescue is often limited by the allocation of resources, both human and financial, to combat the problem of child sex slavery.

According to the 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report, the Indonesian Commission for the Protection of Children identified 293 suspected child trafficking victims. However, a local NGO estimated the victim number was likely as high as 80,000 children in 2017. Clearly there is a great need to continue to identify and successfully extract minors who are being sexually exploited.

Turning a Blind Eye

As early as 2001, police, government, and tourism authorities were aware of the child trafficking problem in Bali, but according to a report by the World Tourism organization, this knowledge was “ignored, covered up, and denied.” This continued to be the the case for years though it was inconsistent with findings from US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons report which year after year noted that child prostitution and child sex tourism is a major problem in Indonesia, particularly in Bali and the Riau Islands. In April 2013, both the Balinese governor and the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection publicly stated that they were grateful that there had been no reports from the island regarding human trafficking cases.”

In an insightful article that explores the impact of child sex tourism in Bali, one local anti-trafficking NGO leader explained that the local government and police “feel they have the ‘Bali is Paradise Island’ image to defend — it makes them very sensitive about it.”

However, in the last few years, the anti-trafficking community in Bali has been thrilled to see both acknowledgement and engagement of the trafficking issues in Bali by local authorities. The newest Bali Police Chief General Inspector began his career in Bali stating his intention to address organized crime – including human trafficking. Since Dark Bali began on-the-ground advocacy, we have observed the first successful child trafficking prosecution on Bali as well as significant efforts by the Balinese police to recover minors from brothels. The coordination and partnership between law enforcement and organizations specializing in rescue is ongoing and a area of great hope for Dark Bali and its partners.

Every child deserves an opportunity to live an abundant life that includes protection from predators.