The government has highlighted an alarming rise in sexual exploitation of children in Surabaya, Malang municipality and Malang regency, all in East Java.
Elvi Hendrani, head of advocacy over violence against children at the Office of the State Minister for Women's Empowerment, said Thursday in Malang that extra attention had been focused on the three areas' roles as sources, transit points and destinations for children being sexual exploited in Indonesia.
Malang municipality and regency were recently identified as the source of much of the country's victims of trafficking, while Surabaya is notorious as being a source, a transit point and a destination for child trafficking victims.
"The Malang area is not like Surabaya, where everything is obvious," Elvi said.
"However, we believe Malang is rife with child sexual exploitation cases. What we see is only the tip of the iceberg."
Elvi's claims echoed the results of investigations conducted in Malang by the NGO Paramitra.
"In the two months of April and May, we detected six child sexual exploitation cases in the greater Malang area," said Paramitra coordinator Yoga Adianto.
"Victims are generally sent outside the area to be employed as sex workers."
He added the six victims came from Kepenjen, Sumberpucung, Gondanglegi and Wonosari districts, and were aged between 14 and 22 years old.
None of them had a post-elementary-school education, and they were all from low-income families.
"The dominant factors *fueling this* are poverty, people's mind-set and behavior," Yoga said.
"They seek an immediate escape from poverty, and end up in prostitution as the quickest and easiest means to earn money."