Even Nightclub Bodyguards Hesitate to Go Against the Pastor30 December 2015
“ACTUALLY, the shelter is there already, but it is on the brink of collapse. It no longer has roof on it,” stated Iptu Said, Head of Woman and Child Protection Unit (Ketua Unit Perlindungan Perempuan dan Anak, Kanit PPA), Regency Police Force (Polisi Resor, Polres), Batam, as he shared stories about shelter facility for victims of human trafficking, an issue which offen occurs in the Batam island.
Investigation on trafficking cases usually took six months. Once all files had been completed, the police submitted them to the district attorney. If there were files that had not been completed, they would need additional time to finish them. During that process, the victims needed to be cared for in a shelter.
“Yes, well, we do not have enough budget to establish a shelter,” said Iptu Said. “Actually, there is an Integrated Service Center for the Empowerment of Women and Children (Pusat Pelayanan Terpadu Pemberdayaan Perempuan dan Anak, P2TP2A), but we do not have the budget for it for 2015.”
Several weeks prior, Polres Barelang had just found under-age children who had been forced to work as sex labors at a nightclub in Batam. “They came from Bandung, a city in West Java,” said Iptu Said. “Yesterday, we asked the Rainbow Dew Foundation (Yayasan Embun Pelangi, YEP) for their support in identifying the victims, because they are under age and have no clear identities. YEP was willing to take them in YEP’s shelter until it is time to return the victims to their home. So we coordinate on that.”
“Yes, this has become YEP’s burden too, because of the lack of funding,” said Kang* Irwan of YEP, chuckled, though with a hint of concerns. “The Municipal Goverment should be better empowered.”
“Right, and since YEP’s shelter is located in a housing complex, there have been many compaints, because the children were rather loud,” said Iptu Said. “They used to be nightlife people, so they cannot sleep, until four or five a.m. at the soonest. They keep making a lot of noise. Hence, the surrounding communities were complaining, because the shelter is located in a housing area.”
“And because they are used to be provided with good food at the nightclubs, sometimes they refuse whatever simple food given at the shelter,” said Kang Irwan. “So, yes, we occasionally need to take them to restaurants. Otherwise they would run away, which would be a hassle. As a consequence, the budget for meals might increase, especially when there is extended waiting time.”
Brigadier Toni, who helps Iptu Said in trafficking case investigation, also shared a concern when the victims, whom they had saved, then turned against them. “Well, we’ve saved them because they were under age. But some of them then think that we have caused them to lose their jobs. They became angry because we saved them and even asked to be returned to the clubs so that they can work again. They make us look like we are the bad guys,” he explained.
In addition to having formed a solid coordination with the City Police Force of Batam, YEP was also collaborating with the pastors and the churches.
“Many of the trafficking victims come from East Nusa Tenggara, most of whom are Catholics,” said Kang Irwan. “So when they have been detained or experienced violence and wanted to escape, they usually run to no other than the Church.”
Some trafficking victims who ran away were usually recaptured by the nightclubs’ bodyguards. Many of them came from outside of batam, so when they ran away, they did not know where they needed to go. They ended up running about with no particular destination.
Hence, Church was considered a place of refuge, and YEP saw this as a good opportunity. “Rather than running to obscure places, it is better for them to go to Church. So we at YEP can offer to help whenever there is a report from the Pastor,” he explained.
YEP often discussed with the Pastor on matters surrounding violence against women and human trafficking. “Interestingly, not only that the trafficking victims come from East Nusa Tenggara, but many of the nightclub bodgyguards also come from that same region—and, because of their upbringing, they still very much respect pastoral figures.”
Kang Irwan then told a rescue story of a trafficking victim, in which the Pastor played a significant role. When the bodyguards made their threats, it was the Pastor who came forward. Because they were raised to respect pastoral figures, naturally, the bodyguards did not have the courage to go against the Pastor when he stood before them. Even though they were heavily armed with sharp weapons, the bodyguards were afraid to stand in the way of the Pastor as he saved the victim. (***)
*Kang is familiar salutation to elder brother, in Sundanese.