Friday, 12 December, 2008 | 20:23 WIB
TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:The Tourism Destination Development Directorate General, Firmanysah Rahim has recorded 26 sexual harassment cases, including 47 involving children in Bali, through September this year. The perpetrators included foreign tourists. "Most of the cases happen in tourist destinations," said Firmansyah in Jakarta yesterday at a discussion on the exploitation of children.
The Tourism Department said that from 1972 to 2008, 13.707 children from 40 villages in six provinces, namely Bali, West Nusa Tenggara, West Java, Central Java and East Java, have become victims. In tourist destinations like Bali and West Nusa Tenggara, the offenders were mostly foreign tourists.
Firmansyah lamented the fact that the tourism sector has been made a target for these evil practices, including prostitution and gambling. "Tourism does not violate religious code of ethics," he stressed. However, he admitted that there has been no regulation on protecting children from exploitation in the tourism business. He called on tourism businesses, including associations and local residents, to be aware of the problem.
The coordinator of National Committee for the Eradication of Children's Sexual and Commercial Exploitation, Ahmad Sofian, cited data showing that some 150.000 Indonesian children become victims of exploitation every year. "Around 80 percent of them are in prostitution, especially in tourist areas," he said. The figure has doubled compared to those in 1998, based on UNICEF data, citing 70.000 children being exploited every year.
Sofian said this year Indonesia is third in the world's list of places for children's sexual destination. "We come after Brazil and Vietnam," he added. Last year, Indonesia was still in the top five, after Cambodia and Thailand. Sofian said the governments of the two countries have managed to address the problem and therefore their rating went down.
The Law on Child Protection, Sofian said, only regulates children's exploitation and not prostitution. This is a weakness often abused by the offenders.
Police Commissioner Murnila, chief of the Women's and Children's Unit at the Jakarta Metro Police headquarters, said around 30 percent of the 40.000 to 70.000 sexual workers are victims of child abuse. "The youngest are 11 to 12 years old," he said.
In cases of child exploitation so far, the police prefer to apply Law no. 23/2002 on Child Protection to Law no.21/2007 on the Eradication of Human Trade. "Law no. 23 has more power to charge the offenders and the penalties are harsher," Murnila said.