The Manipulation of Power and the Trafficking of Women during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Narratives from Indonesia
The trafficking of women has become increasingly prevalent as the Indonesian government has sought to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by restricting people’s mobility. Paradoxically, rather than providing momentum for stricter protections, this situation has been exploited by certain individuals to commit the crime of human trafficking. This paper is aimed at explaining the criminals’ modus operandi, exploring why women are particularly vulnerable, and analyzing the shortcomings of the state apparatus in stopping human trafficking. Data collected through observation, interviews, and documentation processes were explored using a case study approach. It was revealed that trafficking of persons has been promoted via a multi-level marketing model involving a network of companies whose operational licenses have been revoked by the government. In many cases, women have unknowingly become victims, and their families and government officials have unknowingly been perpetrators. Further, manipulation of power involved in human trafficking in Indonesia makes it difficult to unravel the tangled threads of perpetrator networks. Social advocacy, starting at the family and rural community levels, is necessary to prevent victimization.
Thank you to the Institute for Research and Community Engagement (Lembaga Penelitian dan Pengabdian Masyarakat – LP2M) UIN Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta for the Collaboration Research between Higher Education in 2021 with Grand Number B-2250.1.6.4/Un.02/PPK/PT01.03.07/2021. The researchers are particularly grateful to all research assistants, Eka Desi Susanti and Halimatus Sakdiyah, for their substantial contributions to the processing of all data collected during fieldwork. We also would like to thank the editors and anonymous reviewers for their review.
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s).
1 Government Regulation No. 59 of 2021 on the Implementation of Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers.
2 The Ministry of Social Affairs, Indonesian Ministry of Labor, Indonesian Polices, Attorney General’s Office of Indonesia, Ministry Of Women Empowerment And Child Protection, Local Government, the Ministry of Finances, and the House Representative (Senator for Religion, Social, Disaster, Women Empowerment and Child Protection).