Indonesian authorities are battling a growing trade in child trafficking, including a recent case where hundreds of babies were sold overseas, a report says.
The report, by the Indonesian Ministry of Women Empowerment, found that efforts to retrieve the children in baby trafficking cases were flawed. It comes amid a three-day workshop on the commercial sexual exploitation of children, hosted by UNICEF and the Indonesian Ministry of Women Empowerment in Bali.
The gathering is attempting to devise a strategy for combating the growing industry. "The baby trafficking cases in Indonesia are not comprehensively handled as human trafficking crimes," the report said. "The cases in which the (perpetrators) were caught and brought to law were the cases where they were caught red-handed."
The report said one woman was caught in South Jakarta last year after having sold 880 babies abroad. A further 25 babies were saved. In another case, also in South Jakarta, one group admitted to selling more than 80 babies to foreigners, while a man in west Java had "exported" about 300 babies overseas, the report said.
UNICEF child protection officer Anna-Karin Jatfors said sexual exploitation of children was a "major and growing issue", with evidence of criminal syndicates operating throughout Indonesia, and Asia. "Because of the crimes involved and the personal nature of sex, the trafficking and exploitation becomes underground and difficult to monitor," she said.
"We only have to walk through Kuta or any other tourist area at night to see for ourselves the many young girls working in the street, or in many of the clubs, karaoke bars or even hotels operating in the area," she said. "Adolescent children who drop out of school are the most vulnerable.
"They are trapped by poor education, with little or no work opportunities. As such they are easy prey for traffickers." Ministry of Women Empowerment child protection assistant deputy Soepalarto Soedibjo said there had been a "significant increase" of sexual exploitation of children, with no significant improvement despite recent efforts to fight the problem.
"We hoped that if the project is succeeded, it can be an example for other areas, but we have problems, we have difficulties to raise awareness to people on this matter," Soepalarto said. Two Australians are currently facing child sex charges in Indonesia.
Donald Storen, 58, faces up to five years if found guilty of allegations of sexual acts with minors on the island of Lombok, while teacher Peter Smith faces up to 20 years if convicted of sexually abusing six street children in south Jakarta.
Adapted from: "Child trafficking 'on rise in Indonesia'" NineMSN. 4 December 2006.
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