I’m no longer frustrated by the fact that we only have a handful of girls in our still less than a year old after care facility. I was at first. We were very hopeful about an active anti-trafficking police force in North Sulawesi and the way that they immediately engaged us. A lot of factors, bigger than us and them both, have them not as active as either of us had hoped. Early police intervention efforts in Papua on behalf of North Sulawesi girls did bear fruit but were riddled with failure at the same time. The quick discovery and severe part of the difficulty was that most of the brothels employing underage girls were owned by their law enforcement counterparts which made actual police action all but impossible until other resources come into the picture.
It seems that police and even the courts are a huge part of the problem, which has me thankful that we only have a handful for now. Our partners and allies in the government that might otherwise be generating more rescues are joined with us in a pitched battle against the police and the court of a city a couple of hours to the south of us. The court is systematically criminalizing victims and letting the traffickers walk. They are operating with complete disregard for the law and worse, the human rights of the girls who are the victims of the traffickers. Two of these girls are clients of ours. We’ve learned that all others that did not have the resources of our shelter are now serving prison sentences.
Our staff and legal counsel have fought and toiled for these girls. As they have, they have also fought for those that sit in the jail cells. With every legal move that is made, new illegal maneuvers are made by the police and court. We have been forced to enlist the help of protective agencies from Jakarta. There is ongoing work with the criminal divisions and internal affairs with the police at the state levels. Police have been arrested. Even so, strategies have had to continue to be developed with the expectation that the arrest threats could become next day realities. We again find ourselves wonderfully served by the staffs of our US Senators offices as they assist us.
As we continue to beat back the illegal efforts of an insistently corrupt entity, we now take the fight to the high court in Jakarta. This week Compassion First will sponsor a judicial review of the law before the Constitutional Court of Indonesia and how it is being applied. It is an expensive and extensive endeavor but, if successful, it will change everything. The game will not be over for traffickers, but it will be more difficult because their corruptible loophole will be gone. It should, however, be over for those in authority committing unconscionable acts against victims. And when it is over, we hope to scour the jails and fill our center with survivors.
We set ourselves to a mission of going where others had not. That means that we would be doing the groundbreaking work which is at times back-breaking and difficult. As well, it can be frustrating to answer the question of why we have so few clients when in fact, our staff has all the work they can handle and more. It seems that even though we’ve only been operational for a few months, the expectations are pretty high and so they should be. It may be true that we only have a handful of girls. At the same time, it is true that we are serving a nation of girls.