Tanjung Priok Port police in North Jakarta have arrested a person for trying to sell five teenagers in Singapore as sex workers.
Several workers at the port went to police after they saw the suspect, H.Z., walk onto a boat with five young women and remain there for several days.
“After receiving the report, we checked the boat and arrested H.Z. The girls told us that the man wanted to send them to Singapore as maids,” Whirdanto Hadicaksono, Tanjung Priok Police’s chief of detectives, said on Sunday.
He said police were suspicious that the five girls would be used as sex workers because they were not given the chance to ask their parents for permission prior to leaving their villages in West Java.
“Based on the girls’ explanation, they haven’t told their parents about their plan to leave for Singapore,” Whirdanto said. “H.Z. also gave them money to buy clothes and plane tickets, so the girls were already in debt to him.”
Police said they were also able to hunt down H.Z.’s accomplice, identified as L.
The fugitive recruited the girls from their villages.
“H.Z. said he was only a courier and that this was his first time,” Whirdanto said. “Meanwhile, we have located L and can hopefully arrest him soon.”
Police have also reported the case to the Child Protection Commission (KPAI).
“As all the victims are underage, we will let the KPAI deal with them,” Whirdanto added. “As for H.Z., we will charge him with people-trafficking and he will face a maximum of 15 years in prison.”
The KPAI has said the number of child trafficking cases across the archipelago has been on the rise in recent months.
The International Labor Organization estimates that 100,000 Indonesian children are trafficked every year, and between 40,000 and 70,000 are victims of sexual exploitation.