Story provided by: Diocesan Pastoral Centre for Filipinos
In 2009, 16-year-old Nisrina* left her remote village in Indonesia’s Banten Province in hopes of making more money to support her family. “My auntie introduced me to a broker who forged my travel documents so I could work,” she said, “The broker then took me to a recruitment agency in Jakarta. I just wanted to earn more money. I thought God would protect me.”
The agency arranged for Nisrina’s travel to Hong Kong and placement as a domestic worker, but she soon found that she was being exploited by her employer. “I was allowed to sleep for about two hours a day, sometimes less,” said Nisrina. “I had to take care of four children and clean the apartment. The mother and auntie of the children often beat me with sandals or punched me for no reason, and sometimes my nose bled.”
In 2010, Nisrina had endured physical abuse for over a year, her employer had begun to withhold her pay, and Nisrina attempted suicide by drinking a glass of kerosene. “My employer found me unconscious and allowed me to rest, but the next day, they made me work again,” she said. Later, Nisrina ran away from her employer and roamed the streets of Hong Kong looking for work until a local shopkeeper took her to a police station. The Hong Kong police then took her to the Indonesian Embassy, which arranged for her repatriation to a shelter for trafficked women in Jakarta, where she is now recovering.
*All names & identifying information have been changed to protect the identity of the survivor.
Human trafficking indictors in this case
Common work and living conditions:
- Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
- Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
- Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
- Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
- Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
- Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
- Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
- High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior
- Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
- Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
- Avoids eye contact
- Poor Physical Health
Lacks health care
- Appears malnourished
- Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
Lack of Control
- Has few or no personal possessions
- Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
- Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
- Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
- Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
- Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
This list is not exhaustive and represents only a selection of indicators in this particular case. Also, the red flags in this case may not be present in all trafficking cases and are not cumulative. Learn more about human trafficking here!
Are you or someone you know being trafficked?
Is human trafficking happening in your community? Recognizing potential red flags and knowing the indicators of human trafficking is a key step in identifying more victims and helping them find the assistance they need.
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