Vela Andapita, Jakarta – Following recent revelations of child prostitution in Jakarta and Depok of West Java, the National Child Protection Commission (KPAI) has called on the government to initiate a child-friendly apartment program to curb such crimes in high-rise buildings.
"I plan to meet [Jakarta] Governor Anies [Baswedan] to at least make him aware of the situation," Ai Maryati Solihah, KPAI commissioner for the trafficking and exploitation division, said at a press conference on Tuesday.
The press conference followed a meeting the commission had held with the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) and the Social Affairs Ministry's Children and Social Rehabilitation Center (BRSAMPK).
"Lately, we've been receiving complaints from apartment residents. They said they often see female teenagers dressed inappropriately hanging out at cafes [on the ground floors of apartment towers] until past midnight. Shortly after we received such reports, a case of alleged prostitution was revealed," she went on.
The case came to light when Depok Police received a report on a 15-year-old girl that had been missing since December. On Jan. 22, she and three other girls, two of whom were also minors, were found in an apartment in South Jakarta. She was allegedly about to become a sex slave, following in the footsteps of the three other girls.
Another missing child case led Depok Police investigators to alleged child prostitution in an apartment in Depok. A 16-year-old girl who had not been home since Jan. 2 was found in the apartment with a man named Pachrul Rozy.
Police arrested Pachrul and three other suspects – AIR, BS, JFM. The 16-year-old girl had allegedly been recruited by AIR after befriending him on Facebook and then meeting him at a cafe.
The girl had not returned home since then. Instead, AIR took her mobile phone and, using her number, created an advert on a messaging platform, offering sex services to other users.
Ai believes that prostitution, including crimes involving minors, is rampant in vertical housing.
"Just less than two years ago we faced a similar case from the exact same apartment building in South Jakarta. I didn't hear of any [such case] in 2019, so I thought it had ended, but apparently it resurfaced just now," she said.
Ai was referring to a case from July 2018 when the commission received four reports of alleged prostitution involving minors in an apartment. The reports indicated that children had been forced into sexual slavery since 2015.
Tuesday's meeting between the three institutions also discussed a case of alleged child prostitution in Penjaringan, North Jakarta, that was uncovered on Jan. 13, when the Jakarta Police arrested 10 suspects and removed 10 children – eight of whom have been placed under the care of the BRSAMPK.
When asked about the whereabouts of the other two children, the head of BRSAMPK's administrative unit, Sulistya Aryadi, could not give a clear answer. "It was the police that made the decision. They found 10 victims but only brought eight to us," Sulistya said.
The child prostitution reportedly took place at a cafe and had been going on for two years.
The children, who came from West and Central Java, lived in a makeshift dorm. Each of them was allegedly forced to serve 10 male guests per day, earning Rp 60,000 (US$4.39) for every man they served.
Contacted through social media, the recruiters allegedly offered them a good job with big pay.
During their stay at the BRSAMPK, Sulistya said, the children had been receiving therapy to heal their trauma and physical wounds sustained from the prostitution – some reportedly had genital infections.
The parties to the meeting also called on the police and prosecutors to charge the suspects under Law No. 21/2007 on human trafficking, in addition to the Child Protection Law and the Criminal Code.
LPSK chairman Antonius Prijadi Soesilo Wibowo said the case met the criteria of human trafficking, since the victims had been recruited, facilitated and forced to do things for money under difficult circumstances – without decent salary and sufficient resting time, for example.
KPAI chairman Susanto said the commission in January alone recorded six child trafficking cases, including three from Greater Jakarta. The three others were in Buton, Southeast Sulawesi, in Kulon Progo, Central Java, and in Central Kalimantan.
The one in Kulon Progo involved 80 underage vocational school students, 10 of whom had managed to rescue themselves. They had been hired as "interns" to work on a cruise ship but ended up being exploited without decent treatment.
"With the advancement of technology, including communication platforms, we can expect to see more varied modi operandi of recruiting children for trafficking. We should work hard to prevent that," he said.