Trafficking in women rising in North Sumatra
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) Trafficking of women to Malaysia is on the rise, according to NGO Child Protection and Analysis Center. Already in the first two months of the year, the Center has had to deal with 16 cases; last year, it reported 60 cases of young women forced into prostitution in Malaysia.
Ahmad Sofian, the Center's executive director, said that North Sumatra is the main transit point for criminal gangs involved in this trade. Geographic proximity to Malaysia and the ease with which passports are issued are among the main reasons.
"We are working with the Malaysian police to track down trafficking cases, and several people have been arrested. We have been assisted by several non-governmental organizations that focus on this issue," said Ronny Sompie, who heads North Sumatra Police's Crimes Division.
In addition to reporting sex exploitation cases, the Child Protection Center also helps women regain their freedom and go home. Last Saturday, it helped repatriate 11 Indonesian women.
One of the women, Nunung, said she was tricked into working as a commercial sex worker without pay in Malaysia for four years. She left for Malaysia in 2002 after being promised a job as a cellular phone shop attendant with a decent salary. But upon arrival in the country, she was forced to work at a karaoke bar in Pucung until she was detained by Malaysian police.
The Center's coordinator, Azmiati Zuliah, said that "when we heard that trafficking victims were apprehended by Malaysian police, we, with the help of North Sumatra Police, worked to help send them back home".
Several NGOs work on behalf of exploited women and teens in Malaysia. Besides the Child Protection and Analysis Center, the Woman Aid Organization (WAO) has been defending exploited women for the past 20 years, especially those used as baby-making machines. Criminal gangs in fact prevent foreign sex workers from using contraceptives so that they can get pregnant and their children sold for sums that can reach US$ 40 to 50,000.
NGOs have been fighting in the last few years for new legislation that would ban such exploitative treatment of women, protect young women, and prevent them from ever falling into the hands of criminal circles again.