Bayu Marhaenjati, Jakarta – The Jakarta Police have arrested six people for allegedly forcing underage girls to work as prostitutes in a cafe under horrific conditions, where each victim was forced to serve 10 clients per day and take pills to delay menstruation to "maximize profits."
The cafe is located on Jalan Rawa Bebek in Penjaringan, North Jakarta. Police said at least 10 underage girls had fallen victims to the syndicate.
"We have arrested six people and named them suspects for exploiting children," Jakarta Police spokesman Senior Comr. Yusri Yunus said on Tuesday.
The ring leader, a woman identified by her initial R., owns Kafe Khayangan where the victims worked as prostitutes. Two other women identified as A. and T. are alleged to have been their pimps. Other suspects include D. and T.W. who allegedly recruited the children and E. who collected payment from guests and worked as a room keeper.
Yusri said T.W. and D. sold underage girls to the ring leader for between Rp 750,000 ($55) and Rp 1.5 million per person "depending on their looks."
"The ring leader would force each kid to accompany guests over a drink and have sex with them for Rp 150,000. The victim was paid Rp 60,000, the rest was taken by the boss. They were paid monthly and if they wanted to quit, they were forced to pay Rp 1.5 million. Their cellphones were kept by the ring leader, so they were unable to communicate with other people," Yusri said.
Detective Commissioner Pujiyarto said the syndicate forced each of the victims to serve at least ten guests per day.
"If they failed to meet the target, they were fined Rp 50,000. There was no routine medical checkup, which makes them very vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases," Pujiyarto said.
"The syndicate makes Rp 2 billion per month and the victims would only receive their salaries two months after working there," he said.
Another officer, Commissioner Piter Yanottama, said there was a possibility that other cafes in the area also had their own prostitution ring.
"We've only uncovered this case but there are many other cafes in that area, each has its own boss," he said.
In addition to the 10 girls, police also rescued five adult women from the cafe, Piter said.
"They lived in a slum. Whenever they were about to have their period, they were forced to take pills to delay it, because if they had a period, they could not serve guests. We have conducted a forensic medical checkup and found one of them had her genital severely damaged at a very young age," he said.
Initial investigation found that the syndicate has been operating for two years.
Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) commissioner Ai Maryati said the case represented "modern slavery."
"This is savage violence that must be stopped. We have to save our children," she said. "[The police have to] investigate the case seriously and optimize punitive measures," she said.
The suspects are charged under the Child Protection Law and the Criminal Code that carry a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail.