How You Can Help | About Us | Contact Us | Search (logo image)

A web resource for combating human trafficking


The Situation
Indonesia is a major source country, and to a much lesser extent a destination country for women, children, and men who are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor.  

The number of Indonesians seeking work abroad remains very high, with an estimated 6.5 million to 9 million Indonesian migrant workers worldwide. Many of these workers voluntarily migrate but are later coerced into abusive conditions.1 

The International Organization of Migration (IOM) and a leading Indonesian anti-trafficking NGO estimates that 43 to 50 percent – or some 3 to 4.5 million – of Indonesia’s expatriate workforce are victims of conditions indicative of trafficking. Each of Indonesia’s 33 provinces is a source (and destination) of trafficking, with the most significant source areas being Java, West Kalimantan, Lampung, North Sumatra, and South Sumatra. The majority of Indonesian migrant workers face conditions of forced labor and debt bondage in more developed Asian countries and the Middle East – particularly Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Kuwait, Syria, and Iraq.2

Indonesian women are particularly vulnerable to trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation. It is estimated that between 69 to 75 percent of all overseas Indonesian workers are female, the vast majority working as domestic workers.3 The number of Indonesian women who reported being subjected to rape while working as domestic workers in 2010 appears to be on the rise. Based on a 2010 survey, a respected Indonesian NGO noted that during the year 471 Indonesian migrants returned from the Middle East pregnant as the result of rape, and an additional 161 returned with children who had been born in the Middle East.4

Labor recruiters, often known as PJTKIs, operating both legally and illegally in Indonesia, are a main conduit through which male and female laborers seek employment opportunities abroad. Some PJTKIs operate similar to trafficking rings and impose high recruitment fees, which make migrants vulnerable to debt bondage. This is particularly pronounced among sex trafficking victims. There are reports that these recruitment brokers use ties to government officials or police to operate outside the law and escape punishment.5 

More than 25 sex trafficking victims from Uzbekistan were identified in 2010, and there were reports of victims from China, Thailand, other Central Asian countries, and Eastern Europe exploited in Indonesia.6 

Internal Trafficking
Internal trafficking from rural to urban remains a problem in Indonesia, with women and girls exploited in domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation, and in forced labor in rural agriculture, mining, and fishing.7  

It is estimated that there are 3.2 million children between the ages of 10 – 17 years old in Indonesia engaged in employment with some involved in the worst forms of child labor.8  Some traffickers continue to forge partnerships with school officials to recruit young men and women in vocational programs for forced labor on fishing boats through fraudulent “internship” opportunities.9 

International sex tourism and child sex tourism remains an issue, especially on the islands of Batam and Karimun and in major urban centers and tourist destinations across the country, including Bali and Riau Island.10 According to the Director General for the Development of Tourist Destinations, an estimated 40,000 to 70,000 Indonesian children have been exploited in prostitution within the country.11 

There are many causes of human trafficking in Indonesia, including poverty, lack of employment opportunities, unequal gender roles, and community and family pressures to employ children.12 A cultural acceptance of a young marrying age for girls often leads to false marriages or failed marriages; following which, the girls are sometimes forced into prostitution.13  

Children are particularly vulnerable due to the fact that a quarter of junior secondary school age students do not attend school.14 Though the law provides for free education, in practice most schools are not free of charge, and poverty places education out of reach for many children.15 Furthermore, 60 percent of children under 5 years old do not have official birth certificates, putting them at risk of trafficking.16

The Indonesian Government
The Indonesian Government was placed in Tier 2 in the 2011 U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report for not fully complying with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but making significant efforts to do so.  

During 2010, the government undertook efforts to improve coordination and reporting of its anti-trafficking efforts. However, the government did not enact necessary migrant worker legislation or apply sufficient criminal sanctions to labor recruiters who subject Indonesian migrants to labor trafficking. Moreover, the government did not demonstrate vigorous efforts to investigate, prosecute, and criminally punish law enforcement officials complicit in human trafficking, and this remains a severe impediment to the government’s and NGOs’ anti-trafficking efforts.17

Indonesia passed a comprehensive anti-trafficking bill in April 2007 that criminalizes debt bondage, labor exploitation, sexual exploitation, and transnational and internal trafficking. Penalties range from three to 15 years of imprisonment. In March 2011, Indonesia’s parliament passed a new immigration law that provides punishments of up to two years’ imprisonment for officials found guilty of aiding and abetting human trafficking or people smuggling. The new law also links human trafficking and people smuggling, allowing traffickers to be prosecuted for the crime of smuggling.18

During 2010, Indonesian law enforcement investigated and arrested 106 persons, prosecuted 112 suspects and convicted 25 offenders under the 2007 anti-trafficking law. These figures are down from 2009 numbers (138 prosecutions and 84 convictions), but this is in part due to a new and improved data reporting format.19 

Corruption remains endemic in Indonesia, and members of the security forces, immigration officials and government employees continue to be involved both directly and indirectly in trafficking. Criticisms and complaints include police association with brothels, mainly through the collection of protection money; passive investigations into trafficking; falsification of labor brokers’ licenses; and failure to properly screen passports and the acceptance of bribes at immigration control. Despite these reports, the government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, convictions, or sentences of officials for such trafficking-related offenses in 2010.20

The Child Protection Act addresses economic and sexual exploitation of children as well as adoption, guardianship, and other issues; however, government efforts to combat child abuse generally continue to be slow and ineffective. NGOs report excessively long waits to bring a child rape case to court and unclear mechanisms for reporting and dealing with child abuse.21

The Indonesian government continued modest but uneven efforts to protect victims of trafficking during 2010. The Ministry of Social Welfare continues to operate 22 shelters and trauma clinics for victims of sex and labor trafficking and the National Police operate several “integrated service centers,” which provide medical services to victims of violence and trafficking. However, the government relies significantly on international organizations and NGOs for the provision of services to victims and only provides limited funding to domestic NGOs and civil society groups that support such services.22

Most security personnel do not employ formal procedures for the identification and referral of victims among vulnerable groups, such as females in prostitution, children migrating within the country, and workers returning from abroad. Due in part to this, and to a lack of funding, victims are often returned to their homes without the provision of shelter or assistance, making them vulnerable to re-trafficking. In some cases trafficking victims are detained and arrested by police, including through raids on prostitution establishments which are often carried out in order to extract bribes from managers and owners.23 

Screening of migrants for evidence of trafficking at Jakarta International Airport’s Terminal Four, through which nearly 40 percent of legal migrants pass, remains inadequate. In some cases, officials charge returnees excessive fees.24

The Indonesian Government is making efforts to coordinate all of its local anti-trafficking task forces and government agencies, under a single national anti-trafficking task force, on policy and implementation of its national action plan. The government, often in collaboration with NGOs and international organizations, runs public awareness campaigns and service announcements to alert vulnerable populations to the dangers of trafficking and to provide assistance information to victims.25 

In April 2011, the government established the National Coalition for the Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children at the University of Indonesia to address the problem of child trafficking. Additionally, the Ministry of Manpower reportedly listed approximately 100 labor recruiting companies (PJTKIs) suspected of malpractice and abuses that potentially contribute to labor trafficking; to date, however, the government has not penalized any of these PJTKIs. The government has not reported efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor or for commercial sex acts.26

International Cooperation
Police liaison officers are posted to Indonesian embassies in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand to support law enforcement cooperation with host governments, including trafficking investigations. During 2010, the government expanded its collaboration with foreign partners and NGOs in the training of law enforcement officials on trafficking.27

A 2006 MOU between Indonesia and Malaysia allows for Malaysian employers to confiscate passports from migrant workers, which has been recognized as contributing to workers’ involuntary servitude. The Indonesian Government has been negotiating with the Malaysian Government to amend this MOU but talks were stalled in 2010 reportedly due to an impasse on the issue of a minimum wage and a weekly day off, which the government of Indonesia is demanding for domestic workers. As a result, an Indonesian Government ban on approving the emigration of domestic workers to Malaysia remains in effect.28 

The U.S. Department of State recommends that the Indonesian government enact the following measures in its 2011 TIP Report:

  • Enact draft legislation to provide effective protections to Indonesian migrants recruited for work abroad, particularly female domestic workers; 
  • Undertake greater efforts to criminally prosecute and punish labor recruitment agencies involved in trafficking and the illicit recruitment practices that facilitate trafficking, including the charging of recruitment fees that are grossly disproportionate to the services that recruiters provide; 
  • Increase efforts to prosecute and convict public officials – particularly law enforcement and Ministry of Manpower officials who are involved in trafficking; 
  • Augment efforts to protect domestic workers within Indonesia, particularly children, through law enforcement, public awareness and assistance to families; 
  • Improve the collection, analysis, and public reporting of comprehensive data on law enforcement actions taken under the 2007 law;
  • Prosecute and punish those who obtain commercial sexual services from children; 
  • Increase government funding for the rescue, recovery, and reintegration of trafficking victims; 
  • Improve coordination with other labor sending governments, with the goal of creating a regional migration framework that protects workers from human trafficking and exploitation; and 
  • Increase efforts to combat trafficking through awareness campaigns targeted at the public and law enforcement personnel in source regions.29


1 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
2 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
3 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report; ILO: Labour Migration in Indonesia
4 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
5 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
6 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
7 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
8 ILO: Child Labour in Indonesia
9 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
10 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report; 2010 US Department of State Human Rights Report
11 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
12 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report; 2010 US Department of State Human Rights Report
13 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report; 2010 US Department of State Human Rights Report
14 UNICEF Indonesia Overview – The Children, Primary School Years
15 2010 US Department of State Human Rights Report
16 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
17 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
18 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
19 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
20 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
21 2010 US Department of State Human Rights Report
22 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
23 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
24 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
25 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
26 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
27 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
28 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
29 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report



Related pages on this site [view all]

Related external links [view all]


Search the entirety of the site for resources or updates.

Inquiry Corner

We are here to assist you with research requests or inquiries about human trafficking. Click here to contact us!


Sign up for our monthly newsletter to stay up-to date with news and events from around the world.

Linking Needs with Resources Campaign

Click here to find out more.

© 2001 - 2006 Academy for Educational Development. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy and Disclaimer               Feed-icon-12x12-orange Subscribe via RSS