Ending Human Trafficking in Indonesia

Ending Human Trafficking in Indonesia


This research paper will be a case study on human trafficking in Indonesia. The purpose of this paper is to analyze and understand how the Indonesian Government is making efforts to end human tracking in its state. Human trafficking is a global epidemic that violates not only the most basic fundamentals of human security but also one that affects the lives of millions each year. It is important for each state to do their due diligence when it comes to eliminating human trafficking within their states. This paper will include information to understand better the issue that Indonesia faces regarding human trafficking and offer solutions on how it can move forward as a state to make efforts in eliminating human trafficking.

Background of the Problem:

Several different problems face Indonesia when it comes to combatting human trafficking. Firstly, Indonesia is considered a second-tier state when it comes to monitoring and fighting human trafficking, meaning they do not meet the minimum standards for eliminating human trafficking (Indonesia, 2019). This is an improvement from a report done on Indonesia in 2003 when it was still considered a third-tier state. (Indonesia, 2019). Victims of human trafficking in Indonesia are often forced into sexual exploitation and low-wage employment (Salisburry, 2019). Mail order brides’ are not uncommon, as well as child laborers. The Riau islands and Bali are plagued with child sex tourism. The Indonesian government passed the first anti-human trafficking law in 2007 and prohibited any form of human trafficking with a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment. (CITE)




The primary issue facing Indonesia is that the conditions in Indonesia pose a substantial threat to Indonesian citizens, as it pushes those into debt bondage into more developed states in Asian. Debt bondage is what occurs when someone is involuntarily made to work to pay off a debt that they were tricked into (Blackburn, 2010). As a result of this, the victim typically works for almost nothing and has no control over their debt owed. This isn’t a new concept and has existed for hundreds of years; however, it is seen most often in South Asian states. (Rafferty, 2013). Those living in poverty are targeted with promises of working wages and then forced into labor and sexual exploitation (Rafferty, 2013).

Another issue that Indonesia faces in regard to human trafficking is child trafficking which is one of Indonesia’s top issues, due to child sex tourism. Children and underage teenaged are exposed to sexual exploitations at resort islands, such as Bali and Batam. (CITE) A significant contributing factor of this is sex tourism, which is when a person or persons travel to states where prostitution is legal specifically for sexual purposes (Cho, 2013). The legality of prostitution makes it even more difficult to distinguish human trafficking.

The last issue facing Indonesia that will be discussed in this essay is Indonesia’s lack of government involvement when it comes to human trafficking. There has been no national task force formed by the government.  (CITE) The first and only National Plan of Action that Indonesia implemented expired in December 2007 and Indonesia has still failed to develop a second, even after having an evaluation of performing one in 2017. (CITE) The efforts were futile due to the lack of funding and organization between the Indonesian government task forces and the national task forces. (CITE)

Complicating Issues & Analysis:

Inadequacy in Public Awareness Campaigns

Human trafficking for purposes of sexual abuse and exploitation, forced labor as well as for purposes of repaying the debt in a process known as debt bondage is Southeast Asian countries, particularly in Indonesia. (Farhan, 2018) In this region alone, it estimated that some 21 million are victims of human trafficking where many have been permanently condemned to work for low wages in a debt repayment strategy where victims are tricked that they will be given well-paying jobs to repay their debts only for them to be subject to forced labor” (Trafficking, 2018). In most of these instances, the victims have less say concerning the repayment schedule and salaries.

Despite the existence of a wide variety of information concerning human trafficking openly practiced in these regions mostly at the eye of government agencies; often, the public in the affected areas have minimal information concerning the issue of human trafficking (Mayasari, 2017). In rural areas, which is frequently targeted by human traffickers dealers, the majority of the population do not have a clue concerning what human trafficking entails. In most cases, those who do not have access to information or are not aware of social tracking are targeted by human traffickers who come with all sorts of rewards for the victim families. Young girls targeted for sex tourism and prostitution, for instance, are often lured with the promise of good food, better shelter, and good pay only to end up in brothels and in resorts where they are paraded for sexual purpose for both domestic and international clients in the name of tourists (Rafferty, 2013).

Though numerous campaigns have been carried out to address the issue of human trafficking, the fact that majority of the people in the affected regions often have no clue concerning what human trafficking entail means that these efforts are either too little or inappropriate. NGOs and other international bodies engaged in fighting human trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse of young girls as well as forced prostitution and forced labor in the case of debt bondage have been criticized for not doing enough to tackle the issue (Rafferty, 2013). In most cases, these bodies are engaged in public relation activities to attract funds from donors while in reality, they are doing too little to tackle the menace. As a result, the majority of the population and those targeted for these heinous acts often do not get to understand what human trafficking and the related issues entail, hoe they can solve and why they ought to be resolved.

Lack of Action from the Government

Government inaction when it comes to tackling human trafficking is another issue that complicates the fight against the problem in the majority of the countries where teenage prostitution, sex tourism, forced labor with not pay as well as forced prostitution is common. In Indonesia, efforts by the government to deal with the issue, for instance, are quite minimal. In most of the cases, only a few members of the society are reached by government efforts aimed at fighting human trafficking (Mayasari, 2017).

Collusion between government officers especially the police are some of the leading reasons why the majority of human trafficking issues are not comprehended into its conclusion. In these cases, victims of human trafficking acts which include forced labor and prostitution are often left with no alternative due to support from the government. As a consequence, millions of people suffer under heinous acts associated with trafficking with seemingly no support and action from the government to help deal with the problem.

Lack of government support for the issue of human tracking in Indonesia is evident from the fact that there is no comprehensive legislation enacted to tackle this rampant issues that affect millions of victims as well as thousands of families whose members are subjected to these heinous activities. Despite the many problems associated with prostitution, for instance, the activity is still legal in the country. This makes the fight against sex tourism and other forms forced sex activities such as forced prostitution in brothels.

High Poverty Levels

The high levels of poverty among many Indonesian families is another issue that significantly affects the fight against human trafficking. For some low-income families, children are often sold or allowed to work under dangerous conditions so that they can earn income (Lindquist, 2010). In rural areas, for instance, some human tracking activities take place right in the eyes of the public and authorities who do little to stop the trade. The problem of poverty is usually compounded by the fact that public campaigns to address the issue often does not reach remote rural areas.

Extreme poverty levels are a significant obstacle on the fight against trafficking in many studies (Lindquist, 2010).  Human traffickers often take advantage of the situation where they approach unsuspecting individuals and families, luring them into their schemes with fake promises of good jobs, food, and shelter. In some instances, men and women are forced involuntarily into forced labor and prostitution from debtors who demand to be repaid their debts. What is more worrying about this form of debt repayment is the zero power that victims have on the amount of pay and hours of work.

Due to poverty, many communities in Indonesia have come to accept some of these issue related to human trafficking socially. For example, child labor or instead force involvement of children in the production process where they are exposed to numerous cases of abuse is ethically permissible in Indonesia. Under pretense, young women are often lured from the security of their homes to far neighboring countries with the promises of a better life only to be coerced into prostitution and many other heinous acts. For the majority, they have no option since a home is no better.

Possible Solutions:

Looking at the idea that human trafficking is widely motivated by supply and demand, the first solution would be to ban prostitution in Indonesia and make it illegal. Having prostitution tolerated and widely practiced gives traffickers more leeway to not only get away with trafficking but also makes it more difficult to detect. Human trafficking awareness. Educating citizens about the signs of human trafficking and how to report it. Creating harsh laws against human trafficking and enforcing them. It’s not enough to have these laws that meet the minimum standard if they’re not adequately enforced. In line with that, Indonesia creating a specific task for specifically for human trafficking would fall in line with this solution.


Although human trafficking is a highly profitable crime and challenging to detect, with government intervention and education a solution can be found to fight the threat of human trafficking in Indonesia.

Anticipated Outcome:

These recommendations expect to combat the threat of human trafficking in Indonesia and eventually eliminate it. The end goal for Indonesia is to become a tier 1 state, which would mean that it is fully compliant with the minimum standards of Trafficking Victims Protection Acts, or TVPA. (CITE) The expectation is that upon implementing these solutions, Indonesia will be able to make great efforts to become compliant with these standards and children, women and men can feel safe within their state. The citizens of Indonesia will be able to live free from the fear of becoming a victim of human trafficking, and those who have suffered from human trafficking will be able to get the help that they deserve.


To review, the Indonesian Government is making efforts to end human tracking in its state; however, they have a very long way to go. There are several factors which contribute to the issue of human trafficking in Indonesia as mentioned in this essay. These issues include poverty, sex tourism and lack of government involvement. With the implementation of the solutions as discussed above, there is some room to make progress to not only suppress the growth of human trafficking in Indonesia but also eventually to eliminate it. It is imperative that prostitution becomes illegal, citizens become educated, and the Indonesian government explicitly enforces anti-human trafficking laws. This is a difficult topic to stomach; however, it is an important one to talk about, because with knowledge comes power and that’s the only time a difference can be made.







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