Thu, 20 Nov 2003

Police arrest women traffickers

Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan

Two women suspected of involvement in a syndicate trafficking young women to Malaysia were arrested late Tuesday at their respective residences in Medan.

The suspects, Siti Mawar Sembiring, 40, and Lena, 25, said they had sent five teenagers to an agent identified as Mr. Lau in Malaysia. They said that since 2001 a number of women had been sent to Malaysia, under the guise that they would be employed as domestic helpers.

Adj. Sr. Comr. Mardi Rukmianto of the provincial police crime division said Wednesday, that the arrest was made possible as the victims had reported their plight to the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur in mid October. The embassy forwarded the report to the North Sumatra police.

Mardi said that two young women, Wina and Rian, (not their real names), both residents of Medan, had managed to escape from a Kuala Lumpur discotheque, because they could no longer stand being employed as sex workers.

Mardi quoted them as saying that they had been sent to Malaysia illegally, via Medan's Polonia airport to Malaysia in October, without knowing that they would be employed as sex workers. "Both victims are still under the protection of the embassy, and we are still looking for another three victims," Mardi said.

One of the suspects, Siti Mawar, told police that the business of trafficking teenagers to Malaysia was highly lucrative. She said she gained a profit of some 1,800 ringgit for each person "sold" to the Malaysian agent.

"We look for people who are unemployed, mainly at places like malls and plazas, and promise the girls big salaries in Malaysia. Of course we don't say they'll be sex workers," Siti said.

Mardi said police are still investigating the syndicate of traffickers of teenagers in Medan, which is close to Malaysia.