Bekasi. The National Police’s criminal investigation department (Bareskrim) raided a house in Bekasi, West Java, on Monday night and uncovered hundreds of women and children suspected of being trafficked there.
The house, located in the Jaka Permai Indah housing complex on Jalan Cendana 14 number 21, belonged to Mahkota Ulfa Sejahtera, an Indonesian company that helps find migrant workers jobs overseas.
Cmr. Arie Dharmanto, head of the trafficking unit of Bareskrim’s General Crime Division, said there were 161 women in the house, 22 of whom were minors.
“In raids, we freed 161 women that would’ve been sold to Singapore and Malaysia,” he said as quoted by Indonesian news portal Detik.com on Tuesday.
He said locals tipped off the police based on suspicions that there were scores of people in the house that seemed to not be allowed to leave the premises.
“We received reports from local people that suspected there were people in the house that were being held hostage,” Arie said. “Afterwards, we went directly to the location and saw the house was locked. After we opened it, we were surprised to find hundreds of people inside.”
The two-story shelter was messy and crowded. The women slept on the floor with simple mats and no beds.
He said the police are still investigating the case. Two people, identified as Y. and V., have been named suspects. They were arrsted in East Nusa Tenggara and they are still being questioned by the police over their alleged involvement.
The female workers are reportedly from East and West Nusa Tenggara, Java and Sumatra.
As of Tuesday morning, the minors had been taken to the National Police Trauma Center Shelter House. The others remained temporarily at the house in Bekasi to have their information taken down.
Heni Lidya, 30, one of the women found in the house, said that most of the women were in the building for around four months.
“I have been here for three months,” she said. “I wanted to be sent to Singapore to work as a domestic worker at a salary of Rp 4.2 million [$344].”
Her friend from South Lampung, Nana, 35, said the women were promised high salaries to work in other countries.
Heni and Nana initially received Rp 4 million each from a sponsor who asked them to work overseas.
“The sponsor’s name is Roy. I received Rp 4 million to go and work overseas,” Heni said. “But Rp 1 million had been subtracted and another Rp 2 million was sent to my parents in Lampung.”
Most of the women are worried now because there is no certainty as to when they will be employed.
Indonesian news portal Tempo.co reported that after their data is taken down, the women will be sent to shelters run by the Ministry of Social Affairs before being sent back to their hometowns.