Bali prone to trafficking of women and children

Surfers hold their boards as tourists sunbath at Kuta beach on Bali island on May 17, 2013.

INDONESIA - As an international tourist destination, Bali is vulnerable to the illicit practice of trafficking women and children, a high-ranking official has warned.

Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Linda Amalia Sari told participants of a national meeting on protection for women and children held at Aston Hotel in Denpasar on Friday, that Bali was famous as a meeting place for international travelers and therefore the practice of human trafficking could be likely to occur on the island.

"People and the Bali administration must remain on alert to the possibility of international chains trafficking in women and children," the minister warned.

"We have to protect and prevent Bali from becoming an international hub for human trafficking," she added.

The minister said she was grateful that there had been no reports from the island regarding human trafficking cases.

"I appreciate the provincial administration's efforts to curb any attempts to traffic people," she said.

In his address, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika claimed that there had been no human trafficking cases on the island yet. "I am very grateful that in Bali, we yet to find any human trafficking cases. The local government, in cooperation with many stakeholders, has been working hard to prevent human trafficking on the island. We should play an active role in its prevention," Pastika said.

However, maybe the governor had not noticed that Bali has been involved in numerous human trafficking cases involving young girls. Reports state that some female students from vocational schools in Badung regency had been sent to Asian countries to work in nightclubs and bars rather than the hotels they had been told they were going to.

A number of Balinese female dancers were also sent to Japan on a so-called cultural trip but ended up working as nightclub workers instead of dancers. Many girls working in the Kuta area have been reportedly trafficked by foreign males to various destinations in Asia. Their cases are underreported.

Linda, however, stated that more effort was needed to tackle human trafficking in Indonesia, as many challenges were being faced by the government, NGOs and other stakeholders across the country involved with the problems.

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