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Indonesian Church demands justice for underage 'sex slaves'

Heavy penalties sought for nightclub owners who 'trafficked' girls as young as 14

Indonesian Church demands justice for underage 'sex slaves'

Indonesian sex workers cover their faces during a raid on a bar in Surabaya, Indonesia, in this file photo. Activists in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province have voiced concern over the prevalence of child prostitution in the predominantly Christian region. (Photo: AFP)

Priests and nuns in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province have called for heavy punishments to be imposed on the owners and managers of four nightclubs after 17 underage “sex slaves” were recently rescued by police.

They along with the Volunteer Team for Humanity (TRUK-F), a rights group, say they want human trafficking charges leveled against the club owners following raids in the city of Maumere in Sikka district last week.

The girls, aged 14-17, from West Java, were kept in slave-like conditions and were rescued after the rights group received a complaint from a parent of one of the victims and reported it to police. They are now being taken care of by the group.

"We urged the police to use the human trafficking law so that the perpetrators can receive more severe punishments and the victims can receive restitution, and be compensated morally and physically," Servants of the Holy Spirit Sister Eusthocia Monika Nata, a TRUK-F coordinator, told UCA News on June 24.

"What they experienced meets the criteria for human trafficking." 

She said pressure would be brought to bear on police who have a history of not pursuing investigations diligently and letting cases drag on.

The priest also expressed fears over the police's commitment in pursuing charges

Meanwhile, Father Ottor Gusti Madung, a human rights activist and lecturer at Ledalero Catholic School of Philosophy who is also helping care for the victims, said they were forced to become sex workers and that two of them were pregnant.

He said they were kept like slaves and although they were paid it was only enough to pay for food provided by the clubs, he said.

The priest also expressed fears over the police's commitment in pursuing charges, saying a rally would be held on July 1 at the police headquarters to pressure them into strictly enforcing the law against the alleged perpetrators.

He said the district police did not respond when they first reported the case and only acted when the provincial police were approached.

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