Indonesia is a country with the fourth largest population in the world, 269 million people out of which one third are children. An estimated 25.6 million people (or 9.66% of the total population) remain vulnerable of falling into poverty, as their income hover marginally above the national poverty line. The children in these families are extremely vulnerable to all forms of child exploitation. Poverty forces these children to be the backbone of their family and as a result they work in hazardous industries, they are sexually exploited in Indonesia´s tourism business, or forced to get married at early age.

Child labour in Indonesia

In Indonesia there are nearly 4 million child labourers and you can see them everywhere. About half of them still go to schools and work after school, while the others never went to school or dropped out of school at a young age. Most children work as child domestic worker, scavenger, in the mining industry, in pottery craft, in home industries, and the garment industry.

In Indonesia, Terre des Hommes addressed child labour in the informal sector. The formal sector outsources its work to subcontractors who hire families to do the work. In these families, it is the children who do most of this work, they make bricks, pottery, or work in the stone mines. Other children separate garbage or do street based work. We provided non-formal education for out of school working children and admitted them to mainstream education. We supported their parents through saving and credit groups, training in parenting skills, income generation and awareness raising. Lobby and advocacy took place at local level to improve government services to child labourers which we then link to the national level.

Sexual exploitation of children in Indonesia

In Indonesia, an estimated 40.000 to 70.000 children are victims of sexual exploitation. Approximately 30% of the sex workers in Indonesia are below 18 years old. Many children are victim of online child abuse imagery, or sexual exploitation in travel and tourism, these two are closely interlinked. International sex tourism and child sex tourism remains an issue, especially in major urban centers and tourist destinations across the country.

Our programme against sexual exploitation of children focuses on sexual exploitation in travel and tourism as well as online sexual exploitation of children. In 2016, Terre des Hommes Netherlands, Plan Netherlands, Defence for Children - ECPAT, Free a Girl and ICCO Cooperation launched the ‘Down to Zero’ programme to put an end to commercial sexual exploitation in eleven countries including Indonesia. 

Child trafficking and migration in Indonesia

Indonesia is a major source country for human trafficking and to a lesser extent a transit and destination country. Legal and illegal labour migration from rural areas to cities, both internally and internationally, is extensive. Children are trafficked abroad as well as between provinces and islands within Indonesia. There are many causes for child trafficking in Indonesia, high-risk children are often poor, uneducated, unskilled and excluded from socio-safety networks. Unequal gender roles, family pressure to employ children and cultural acceptance of a young marrying age for girls also contributes to their vulnerability.

In recent years Terre des Hommes Netherlands prevented child trafficking through the establishment of Child Protection Networks at district, sub-district and village level. These networks raised awareness on the child trafficking and safe migration. There was a referral system for vulnerable children as well as victims of trafficking. We worked with a large network organisation that covers a large part of Indonesia.

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