How Singaporeans contribute to Batam child sexual exploitation
“They all like young girls,” the girl says. “Sometimes, they ask if I’m younger — if I can be younger.”
“Honey” is a 19-year-old sex worker in Batam. She was just 17 when she first became a prostitute. Still a child in our eyes, but a desirable woman in the eyes of many men, and older than many of her co-workers. This young girl is just one of many child sex workers in Batam. She and her peers are also actively sought out by Singapore men, who, according to reports, greatly contribute to Batam child sex exploitation.
Batam Child Sex Exploitation: A Sinful Tale
Honey admits she “feels sinful.” “But I’ve already gone through with it. What can I do?” she whispers, according to a Channel News Asia (CNA) special report.
“They all like young girls,” the girl says. “Sometimes, they ask if I’m younger — if I can be younger.” According to CNA, young girls like Honey are asked to add years to their actual age when asked by “customers.” But reportedly, even if these men are aware of the girls’ real age, they don’t care.
Batam child sex exploitation is a huge problem this Indonesian island faces. Just last year, Yayasan Embun Pelangi (YEP), an NGO that helps these children, handled 28 cases. Another agency named Rumah Faye rescued 21 children.
In 2016, “the Commission for the Protection of Indonesian Children said there were 1,000 child sex workers in Batam”, reports CNA. Some of these victims are abused by up to eight men per night.
The youngest victim so far? Just four years old.
Singaporeans Are Guilty, Too
It pops up on Google maps as a “massage centre” in Nagoya city centre. But it is managed by a middle-aged mamasan (know as a “mami”) who boasts of having plenty of Singaporean customers.
While the CNA journalists were there, two young Singaporean men came in. After a friendly high-five with the mami, they picked their girls, making sure to ask for the youngest.
The mami points at a tiny girl — “This one,” she said. “One point five million rupiah for all night.”
One of the men then reportedly asks, “Don’t have younger?”
Shocking, isn’t it? But it’s not surprising why Singapore customers flock to Batam for their dose of underage sex. It’s just a quick 40-minute ferry ride away, and sex here is cheap.
Quoting ECPAT, CNA reports, “Many middle-aged Singaporean men, above 40 years old, who are called ‘apek-apek’, visited Batam for sex with children between the ages of 13 and 17 years. They were usually facilitated by brokers who were taxi drivers to access these child prostitutes. It is hard to eliminate child prostitution in the island due to high demand.”
What’s even more alarming is this. According to all the NGOs interviewed by CNA reporters, most of the little ones they assisted over the last few years said their exploiters mostly came from Singapore. Even Honey reportedly said most of her customers were Singaporeans.
Singaporean Child Molesters: Named and Shamed
CNA got hold of the details of Singaporeans who recently engaged in Batam child sexual exploitation.
Exploiter 1: Mohammad Asri Sapuan
What he did: Sodomised a 12-year-old Batam boy and forced him to perform oral sex on him several times. Asri also sent to boy to the hotel rooms of visiting Singaporean friends, charging S$28 per visit.
He was arrested in 2017, sentenced to 13 years imprisonment and fined over S$9000.
Exploiter 2: Name not known
What he did: Ran a centre that pretended to send domestic helpers to Singapore, but was actually a cover for him to sexually abuse and exploit young girls under the age of 13. Reportedly, if they “did something wrong” they had to dance around him, flashing their genitals. Others were told they’d be sent sooner to Singapore if they had sex with him.
He was arrested, but escaped, and to date has not be caught.
What Is Being Done About This?
Batam authorities are trying their best to crack down on these men. For example, they’re working closely with hotel management teams, and also keep an eye on Facebook and WeChat.
And while they can help the underaged victims and try to prevent more cases as much as possible, “It’s the demand side that needs to be worked on,” they say.
We at theAsianparent are grateful to CNA to bringing the very real problem of Batam child sexual exploitation to light.
Mums and dads, what’s happening over there may seem very far removed from our own realities. But the truth is that our own kids are more vulnerable than ever to another type of predator — those who prowl online.
Here’s How You Can Protect Your Child from Online Predators:
- Talk to your kids about sexual predators and potential online dangers.
- Follow age limits on social networking websites. Most social networking sites require that users be age 13 and over.
- Young children should not use chat rooms. If you have older kids, direct them towards well-monitored kids’ chat rooms.
- Make sure you know which chat rooms your child visits and with whom they talk.
- Instruct your children to never leave the chat room’s public area. Many chat rooms offer private areas where users can have one-on-one chats with other users. These are often called “whisper” areas.
- Keep the Internet-connected computer in a common area of the house, never in a child’s bedroom. It is much more difficult for a predator to reach your child if the computer screen is easily visible.
Parents, remember: If your child receives sexually explicit photos from anyone online, or if she or he is solicited sexually online, contact the police.
Save any information including email addresses, website addresses, and chat logs to share with the police.
Reference: Channel NewsAsia
Also read: The girl who helped catch sex predators