Children for sale in Java

Police turn a blind eye when parents send their children to work as prostitutes.


    Girls are allowed to bring money to their parents every two months [Al Jazeera]

    Jakarta brothels
    Sanni's daughter works in a brothel in North Jakarta. Like the other girls there, she is locked up most of the time.
    She is allowed to take money to her parents every two months.

    The girl refused to talk to Al Jazeera but another girl from the same village did want to talk, as long as we protected her identity.


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    She said she sometimes feels angry that her parents have done this to her but that she needs to help them because they have many debts.


    She doesn't dare tell her parents that working as a prostitute makes her very sad.


    Parents in Bongas started selling their daughters around ten years ago when Indonesia was hit by an economic crisis.


    The poor farmers learned that they could quickly get a lot of money for their children and some have done very well.


    Most girls left the village straight after elementary school when they were 13 or 14 years old.


    Sukim, a project leader for an anti-trafficking organisation, said parents used to received between $200 and $300 from an agent for their children. The price has now gone up to $1000.


    Sukim said: "Then the child is taken to Jakarta. Because the parents have a debt with the agent, they allow him to take the child to work in a brothel."


    Free education


    To prevent the girls from dropping out of school, Sukim's organisation gives them free education in the village. They're also taught skills like cooking so they can find better jobs.


    But still it's hard to convince parents to stop selling their children when the authorities don't do anything to stop them.


    Sukara, the village chief, said: "If these parents see that their neighbours are successful and happy and when they see their child is beautiful they will still sell her."


    Parents can get a lot of money for their girls
    and some have done very well [Al Jazeera]

    The village chief says he gives parents a strong warning when they sell their children to become prostitutes. But he has never asked for their arrest, although they violate anti-trafficking laws.


    Police usually only arrest the girls during raids on brothels, but their parents get off the hook.


    Sanni, for one, feels that she hasn't done anything wrong.


    She said: "My daughter wanted this herself. I don't mind if she does this work because at least we can get a lot of money."


    In the small village of Bongas alone, five girls have died of Aids over the last couple of months. Because of that, some parents are now a little more hesitant to sell their daughters as prostitutes.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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