Facebook Becomes a Tool for Human Trafficking in SE Asia
People’s fondness of social networking sites has its pros and cons. For younger people, especially, be careful with any information you disclose to the public because your life could be put into danger.
In Indonesia, social networking sites such as Facebook are now being used to help kidnappers locate and obtain youngsters.
A 14-year-old girl in Indonesia innocently accepted the friend request of a stranger on Facebook. She was then drugged and raped countless times. The same happened to many other girls who befriended the man. Luckily, this girl escaped what would have been an even crueler fate. She was supposed to be sold and sent to another island where prostitutes are a usual sight. Fortunately, the kidnapper didn’t have enough money to send her there, and she was thrown to a bus station instead.
“The Internet is such a global medium. It doesn’t differentiate between poor and rich. It doesn’t differentiate between the economy of the country or the culture,” said Anjan Bose, an officer at EPCAT International, a global nonprofit organization that helps children.
Since the number of similar incidents is rapidly increasing in Indonesia, the police and aid groups are constantly on the move to try to solve the problem.
“We are racing against time, and the technology frenzy over Facebook is a trend among teenagers here,” Sirait said. “Police should move faster, or many more girls will become victims.”
This type of human trafficking is not happening only in Indonesia, however, but also in other Southeast Asian countries.
“In the Philippines, this is the tip of the iceberg. It’s not only Facebook and social media, but it’s also through text messages… Especially young, vulnerable people are being targeted,” said Leonarda Kling, regional representative for Terre des Hommes Netherlands, a nonprofit working on trafficking issues. “It’s all about promises.”
Indonesian or not, everybody should be mindful of how to use social networking media. Remember that it always pays to be careful!