Became A Trafficking Victim at a Young Age Due to Being Trapped by a Family

Photo caption: The crime of trafficking victims, especially underage girls, are forced to support their own babies. These “iceberg” cases have never been completely resolved. And, the victim is still harmed. (credit title : Jon Afrizal/

Intention to work into disaster

Riska’s journey (14 years), not her real name, was full of thistles and thorns when she migrated to Pekanbaru City, Riau Province. At a young age, Riska hopes to have a sweet smile when departing from her homeland in an area on the island of Sumatra. For three years, he was a victim of the crime of trafficking in persons (TPPO) because he was trapped in the world of prostitution.

The story begins when a relative offered Riska a job at a hotel on Jalan Juanda, the central area of Pekanbaru City, in 2016. She felt confident because his relative served as manager at the hotel.

She dreams of working in a classy and prestigious place. In fact, he was forced to work in the spa and scrub section of the hotel. However, Riska’s sad story has not stopped. She was forced to face male guests at a very young age.

“A private room, complete with spa equipment and a bed,” said Riska in a low voice, on Friday, February 26, 2021.

It turns out that Riska is not the only little girl at the hotel. There are about 15 women at her age who also work there. They have the same obligation: dealing with perverted men.

From the conversation between them, Riska knew that her friends generally came from outside Pekanbaru. There are also those from the provinces of Jambi and West Sumatra. One of them even lives in the same area as Riska.

However, Riska felt that her fate was worse. Her coworkers work like office hours: eight hours in a day. Meanwhile, she has to work 24 hours a day. “Whenever a guest comes, I have to be on duty,” she said.

Her young age made her not understand about the impact of one’s actions. Riska said, at that time, she did not understand whether the task she was doing was wrong.

One form of ignorance, she never asked guests to use condoms. “Almost all of us who work there do not use security when on duty,” she said.

Apart from being “cheated” by the form of work, indications of the crime of trafficking by Riska arise from arbitrary deductions in income. Every time he works, he admits that she only receives Rp 25 thousand per hour from the hotel management.

In fact, the guests pay Rp 150 thousand to the hotel. She felt that this reward was not commensurate with his efforts.

“I have to face as many as more than five guests per day,” she said. On the one hand, Riska has to support herself in the midst of helping her family finances and the high cost of living in Pekanbaru.

Workers who share the same fate as Riska do not experience violence at work.

However, they both felt cheated. Initially, they hoped to work like ordinary employees.

However, they feel trapped into prostitution at a very young age.

“We were promised to work at the hotel. but we didn’t know that in the end we had to serve the male guests, who were the same age as our own father,” he said.

Sad Fate at a Young Age

Almost all victims of the crime of trafficking have suffered. Riska saw for herself the suffering experienced by her fellow sex workers at a young age. She claimed to have seen a friend give birth in a hotel toilet. There is no adequate medical help and care. As a result, the baby who was born died.

She also suffered the same. At the same time, it turns out that Riska is pregnant. The incident occurred in early 2020. She began to realize that she was pregnant when over time her stomach continued to grow. At this point, she is looking for a way to get out of the “cage” that has made it difficult for her to escape from working at the hotel. “Married. That’s the way to stop it,” she said.

She then married a fellow hotel employee. She felt a little lucky that the man accepted her as she was and accepted the baby.

When met in February 2021, the child she was carrying was already eight months old. “He is healthy so far,” she said.

There are Many Victims of the Crime of Trafficking

Pekanbaru, Riau Province, changes shape at night, especially on weekends. In this city, there are at least three hotels suspected of employing girls who are victims of the crime of trafficking in persons (TPPO) in the world of prostitution.

One night at the end of February 2021, the editorial team stopped at the first hotel on Jalan Tuanku Tambusai. The conditions are crowded with girls who are thought to be minors. They were seen in and out of the hotel door.

In the courtyard of the hotel, several teenage boys gathered. Their ages look like high school kids. There was also an adult man watching the flow in and out of the hotel door. They often seem to talk briefly.

Not far from there, gathered several men who looked like security guards. Their eyes looked alert, and had time to pay attention to the editorial team around the hotel. The team moved away as the security guard approached.

The second hotel is where Riska used to work. Women were seen milling about around the hotel. No one seemed bothered by the presence of young people in the area.

A member of the Riau Province Regional House of Representatives, Ade Hartati, said the phenomenon of trafficking in persons in the world of prostitution, especially underage victims, has been going on for at least ten years in Pekanbaru. Not only in the city center, this crime is suspected to have occurred in the area leading to the Pekanbaru-Bukittinggi highway, Panam area.

“Everyone closes their eyes,” said this member of the PAN faction.

Ade referred to an area where the crime of trafficking victim appear. The area is located on Fisherman’s Street, Meranti Pandak Village, Rumbai District, Pekanbaru. An area inhabited by many girls who are victims of the crime of trafficking.

The economic level of the residents of this area is the lower middle class. Floods often hit. Generally, they work odd jobs to make a living.

“Their daughters, who are still in junior high school, are familiar with prostitution,” said Erni, a local resident.

One of the most common modes is that young women are forced to work as sex workers. The perpetrators are their respective partners. They were allegedly sold to another man for a sum of money. The head of the Riau Province’s Office for Women’s Empowerment, Child Protection, Population Control and Family Planning (P3AP2KB), Tengku Hidayati Effizan, said that 27 cases of the crime of trafficking were recorded between 2012 and 2019.

“Riau province is no longer a transit area, but has become a destination area,” she said in an interview with local media some time ago.

Ade Hartati, doubts the figure. She assumed the number was greater. The crime of trafficking in Riau, she said, is like an iceberg phenomenon. “Recognized or not, the number of victims could be many times greater,” she said.

Other Sectors Contribute to the Crime of Trafficking Cases

Director of the Riau Women’s Resource Development Center (PPSW), Herlia Santi, said her agency had never conducted thorough research and studies related to the criminal act of trafficking in persons (TPPO) in Riau Province. This institution that focuses on the fulfillment of women’s rights ensures that Riau has become a destination for traffickers.

“The fact is that there are still trafficking victims who do exist in Riau Province and are promised to work here, specifically in plantation areas and in the islands,” she said.

But she could not confirm where the victims came from. “Given that Riau Province is a strategic area, which is the gateway to Indonesia, and there are still illegal ports, it is possible that Riau Province is still a transit area,” she said.

Riau University criminal law expert, Erdianto, said the crime of trafficking with children as victims occurred in Pekanbaru because the city is growing rapidly. It is characterized by high economic growth and population growth. So it is open to immigrants from anywhere.

“In addition to its position in the middle of Sumatra Island,” he said.

He said Pekanbaru City was a promising transit city and trading city. So nightlife is a promising opportunity as well.

“With a lot of consumers, then what applies is the law of the market,” he said.

The crime of trafficking with children as victims, he said, occurred for several reasons. Such as economic needs, lack of attention from family and local communities, and lack of understanding of religion, lack of strict law enforcement.

“All this must be a common concern,” he said.

Riau Provincial DPRD member, Ade Hartati, accompanied a similar case in 2019. A 14-year-old girl, named Alisa, was initially made a lover by an older boy. She was then forced to be sold to another man, even though she was pregnant.

“This case has reached the police. But still hanging and not finished, “said Ade Hartati.
Instead of being resolved legally, victims are often forced to resolve the issue peacefully. Alisa experienced this. her fate hangs because there is no meeting point for negotiations between Alisa’s family and her partner. Meanwhile, she has to support the baby.

Initially, Alisa’s partner claimed to be responsible. They planned to get married. Because, the father of his child is confirmed to be his partner.

“Since the first trade, from hotel to hotel, I have been pregnant for two months,” said Alisa.

Although she will not be legally married, he still hopes that the cost of living for the baby is borne by her partner.

Regarding the crime of trafficking issue, Riau Regional Police Chief Inspector General Agung Setya Imam Effendi in a release on December 30, 2020 stated that the number of criminal acts of trafficking in persons in that year reached five cases. the victims numbered 11 people, and it was always women who became victims.

They are generally sold overseas. “We are taking firm action against the perpetrators. In accordance with applicable law, traffickers are subject to a minimum prison sentence of 3 years and a maximum of 15 years,” he said.

They violated Article 2 or Article 4 in conjunction with Article 10 of the Republic of Indonesia Law number 21 of 2007 concerning the Eradication of the Crime of Trafficking in Persons (TPPO). In addition, Article 5 in conjunction with Article 68 in conjunction with Article 83 of the Law of the Republic of Indonesia Number 18 of 2017 concerning Criminal Acts of Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers. ***