‘Where Are Your Victims?’

04 January 2017

The United States has played a key role in international efforts to address trafficking in Indonesia, as elsewhere. In October 2001, the US State Department established an Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, which prepares the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, widely known as the TIP Report. In the reports, countries are divided into three tiers according to their efforts to comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Tier One consists of those countries who fully comply with the minimum standards outlined in the US Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA); Tier Two of those who do not fully comply but are making efforts to ensure compliance; and Tier Three of those who do not comply and are not making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance (US Department of State 2000). Countries in Tier Three are subject to sanctions, including the termination of non-humanitarian aid and US opposition to assistance from international financial institutions (Ould 2004: 61). Critics argue that the TIP reports ignore forms of forced labour other than forced sexual labour, gloss over state complicity in trafficking and are vague about numbers of victims, convictions and sentencing rates (Caraway 2006: 298). Concerns have also been expressed about the impact of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) policy regarding the funding of programmes promoting safe sexual practices within brothels, which stipulate that in order to be eligible for US funding non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in the trafficking field must declare their opposition to prostitution (Ditmore 2005; Weitzer 2007). Organizations that do not take a position on prostitution, as well as those that favour decriminalization or legalization are thus ineligible for funding from the US government.