Skip to content


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 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 with victim services, 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 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report, the Indonesian Commission for the Protection of Children identified 140 suspected child trafficking victims. However, local NGO estimates the victim number to be as high as 80,000 children. Overall, there were only 132 arrests made in 2019 for alleged sex trafficking in the whole country. 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.” An investigation into the reason behind this discrepancy suggests that the problems often rest on ability rather than desire on the part of law enforcement. Government funding for anti-trafficking work is grossly inadequate, and some anti-trafficking police units require officers to pay for their investigations out of their own pockets with promises to reimburse their expenses (which may or may not happen). As noted by researchers, this policing system can lead to “possible disincentives and avenues for corruption.” In many cases, law enforcement officers are not able or willing to fund investigations, and at times ask anti-trafficking organizations to pay for criminal investigations of human trafficking. If this is not possible, the investigation is often dropped completely because there simply is no money to support the effort.

Yet there is progress! 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.” More recently, however, there is 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 two successful child trafficking prosecutions on Bali as well as significant efforts by the Balinese police to recover minors from brothels.

Challenges facing law enforcement in different regions vary, but local NGOs recognize that there is an overall shift in openness and interest in addressing human trafficking at a national level. The coordination and partnership between law enforcement and organizations specializing in rescue across the country is ongoing and an area of great hope for Dark Bali and its partners. Our regional Task Forces comprised of local NGOs, government social ministries, and regional anti-trafficking police units are aimed at bridging the gap between victim services and law enforcement as both groups build trust and begin to coordinate services to better identify, rescue, and rehabilitate child victims of human trafficking.


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