Despite Indonesia having a fast-growing economy, many men and women go abroad seeking work. Most come from the impoverished islands of Flores and West Timor and often fall victim to human trafficking. Domestically, Indonesia is dealing with a growing intolerance against religious minorities, who increasingly face persecution and violence. Together with our local partners, Mensen met een Missie works to reduce human trafficking and promote interfaith tolerance by raising awareness, lobbying, and training local leaders.
While Indonesia has seen recent economic growth, many people still seek employment overseas. Of the 4.5 million Indonesians working abroad, 1.9 million do not have a residence permit for the country they work in. This makes them particularly vulnerable to falling victim to human trafficking. Women and girls, often employed as maids in the Middle East, are exploited, treated as slaves, and forced to work in the sex industry.
There has also been a significant increase in the number of people who are dying due to unsafe working conditions. Local governments are failing to develop an effective strategy against human trafficking. Perpetrators are rarely identified or brought to trial, and victims hardly receive any support.
Rising religious intolerance
Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world: about 90% of the more than 245 million Indonesians adhere to this belief. The country is also diverse in terms of faith, ethnicity, and culture. Respect for diversity and freedom of religion is embedded in the nations philosophy and the constitution. However, implementation is weak.
The blasphemy law, unclear policies, and the legal framework leads to potential discrimination against minorities. In some localities, social-cultural fabrics that promote tolerance and inclusiveness are crumbling, while messages of intolerance and mistrust are on the rise both on and offline.
Along with our 16 (interreligious programme; 5 partners; human trafficking programme: 11 partners) local partners, we work together to prevent human trafficking and promote religious tolerance in Indonesia. We do this through:
Victims of migrant rights violations and human trafficking and their families receive legal, psychosocial and economic support so that they can reintegrate in society. This is done by local congregations and partner organisations based in 8 different communities throughout Indonesia.
Raising political and social awareness
We focus on raising political and social awareness of the causes, consequences, and prevention of human trafficking. We do this by coordinating information meetings at schools to inform both children and their parents of the realities and dangers of working abroad. We provide media training for investigative journalists to highlight the root causes of human trafficking through the media. We also organise workshops for religious leaders and women leaders to mobilise them to speak out against human trafficking.
Lobbying and advocacy towards local authorities
Our local partners have joined forces in their lobbying and advocacy activities to engage and involve local authorities. We inform them about the applicable legislation so that they can better fulfil their role in fighting human trafficking. This results in greater cooperation at the local level between government, religious and social leaders, and law enforcement, and improves the chances of tracking down both victims and perpetrators.
Promoting interfaith relations
The core of the interreligious programme centres around enabling communities, youth, women and religious leaders at the grassroots level to promote tolerance and facilitating interfaith cooperation. Our focus is on local level interfaith relations, building an alternative narrative of tolerance based on religious texts and interpretations. It is essential to engage local government and government institutions to prevent fuelling interreligious tensions and hate speech.
The core of our programme centres around facilitating interfaith cooperation and enabling communities, youth, women and religious leaders at the grassroots level to promote tolerance.
“I come from a community that has been insecure and considered inferior, but this training has strengthened the union between myself and others from different backgrounds.” –Kezya Demetreus (19), an Indonesian Buddhist
Together with our local partners, Mensen met een Missie has managed to:
- Inform 20,000 schoolchildren, their parents and their teachers about the dangers and risks of human trafficking.
- Assist 3,000 people in their legal efforts and trauma processing around human trafficking.
- Guide 50 people to act as ambassadors against human trafficking who now also reach out to others.
- Teach over 300 authorities to be more aware of their role in combating human trafficking.
- Enable 28 religious leaders, together with 196 youth leaders, to create alternative messages for diversity and tolerance on social media, reaching 1,894,277 people.
- Empowered women leaders in 22 villages to engage their village government leaders on the need for inclusive local level development plans.
Our commitment in Indonesia to promote religious tolerance is part of the “Freedom of Religion and Belief” programme (2018-2021) that Mensen met een Missie is implementing in Kenya, Pakistan and Indonesia. This programme is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
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