As reported over the past five years, Indonesia is a major source, and to a much lesser extent, destination and transit country for women, men, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Each of its 34 provinces is a source and destination of trafficking. The government estimates 1.9 million of the 4.5 million Indonesians working abroad—many of whom are women—are undocumented or have overstayed their visas, increasing their vulnerability to trafficking. The actual figure is likely higher, as a significant number of migrant workers traditionally circumvent government overseas placement and permitting requirements, often at the instigation of traffickers. A significant number of Indonesians are exploited in forced labor and debt bondage in Asia and the Middle East, primarily in domestic service, factories, construction, and manufacturing, on Malaysian palm oil plantations, and on fishing vessels throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Malaysia remains the top destination for Indonesian migrant workers; the government estimates more than one million of the 1.9 million Indonesian workers in irregular status are in Malaysia.
Indonesian women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking, primarily in Malaysia, Taiwan, and the Middle East. Domestic workers account for the biggest group of Indonesian women who work in Indonesia as well as Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Middle East, but they are not considered formal workers and are unprotected under local labor laws. Excessive working hours, lack of a formal contract, and unpaid wages are some of the most common abuses Indonesian domestic helpers face.
NGOs estimate labor recruiters are responsible for more than half of Indonesian female trafficking cases overseas. Migrant workers often accumulate significant debt from both Indonesian and overseas labor recruitment outfits, making them vulnerable to debt bondage. Some companies use debt bondage, withholding of documents, and threats of violence to keep migrants in forced labor. Endemic corruption among government officials facilitates practices that contribute to trafficking vulnerabilities in the travel, hospitality, and labor recruitment industries.
In Indonesia, women, men, and children are exploited in forced labor in fishing, fish processing, and construction; on plantations, including palm oil; and in mining and manufacturing. Many women and girls are exploited in domestic servitude and sex trafficking. Victims are often recruited with offers of jobs in restaurants, factories, or domestic service, but are subjected to sex trafficking. Debt bondage is particularly prevalent among sex trafficking victims. Women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking near mining operations in Maluku, Papua, and Jami provinces. Child sex tourism is prevalent in the Riau Islands bordering Singapore, and Bali is a destination for Indonesians traveling to engage in child sex tourism.
Indonesian fishermen working on foreign-flagged vessels reported pervasive abuse, forced labor, unpaid salaries, and, in some cases, allegations of murder. They worked on Taiwan, Thai, Malaysian, and Philippines-flagged fishing vessels operating in Indonesia and in the waters of Thailand, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, and India. Dozens of recruitment agencies in Burma, Indonesia, and Thailand hire fishermen, assign them fake identity and labor permit documents, and force them to fish long hours in waters for low or unpaid salaries while incurring severe physical abuse. The fishermen were prohibited from leaving their vessels and reporting these abuses by threats of exposing their fake identities to the authorities or by detaining them on land in makeshift prisons. More than 7,000 Indonesian fishermen per year sign in and out of foreign vessels at the port in Cape Town, South Africa, reportedly facing dire working conditions, particularly on vessels owned by Taiwan, Korea, and Japan.