Synergizing to Combat Child Trafficking during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Child trafficking is the process of recruiting, transferring or holding, and accepting children for exploitative purposes. This can happen within a country (across provincial or regional borders) or across national borders, taking many forms.
Perpetrators of child trafficking utilize threats or coercion, along with seduction, kidnapping, trickery, abuse of power/vulnerability, and financial benefits towards a legal guardian to gain control over a child. Regardless of the methods, the goal of exploiting a child in another place falls under the definition of child trafficking.
According to the Online Information System for the Protection of Women and Children (SIMFONI PPA), from January 1 to August 18, 2020, there were 4.833 cases of child abuse in Indonesia, recorded at the time the COVID-19 pandemic began to break out globally. 1.962 of them were victims of sexual violence against children, 50 were victims of child exploitation, and 61 were victims of child trafficking. Not only that, the Commissioner for Trafficking and Exploitation of the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the financial stability of many families, causing an increase in child labor practices. In a KPAI survey done during the pandemic, it was found that there was an increase of the worst forms of child labor, especially in child prostitution (31.6%) and scavenger children (15.8%).
Which children are most vulnerable to child trafficking?
As we know, child trafficking, exploitation, and abuse are very serious issues. Children are vulnerable, especially in a pandemic which has caused unprecedented financial and social instability.
Is there a proper solution to fight this problem? Of course, the answer is not only that the government needs to be more assertive in their implementation. It also requires cooperation in all aspects of Indonesian society.
The legislation in Indonesia that regulates trafficking, exploitation, and abuse against children is sufficient. So, what is missing? The implementation of these laws. There have been many laws that are ready to punish the perpetrators fairly, but it is often the execution of justice that we need to question.
Apart from the government, our community also plays a big role! There is a negative stigma that the victim is someone who is “dirty” or “worthless”, which we have a responsibility to stop. Sometimes, we focus too much on the perpetrator and forget the physical and mental condition of the victim. The community has an important role to support and help victims. Social sanctions should be aimed at perpetrators, not survivors.
So, after educating ourselves about the issue of violence against children, let’s work together to protect children in Indonesia and around the world from crimes against children. Even a small step for you can mean a lot to victims and survivors. We can start by not judging victims, and continuing to fight for legal justice for Indonesian victims.
Author: Larasati Marutika
Editor: Mellysa Anastasya
Translator: Faye Simanjuntak