Hong Kong murders a wake-up call for Jokowi
Bagus BT Saragih - Yuliasri Perdani
The Jakarta Post
Investigations into the brutal killing of two Indonesian women in Hong Kong have revealed that the women, prior to their deaths, could have been victims of human trafficking, prompting activists to urge President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo to follow through on his campaign pledge to overhaul the country's migrant-worker protection system.
Officials confirmed on Wednesday that the victims; 32-year-old Seneng Mujiasih, aka Jesse Lorena, and Sumartiningsih, 23, had previously worked legally as domestic workers in Hong Kong.
However, the work permits were no longer valid when their bodies were found at their alleged killer's apartment in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, on Saturday.
Seneng's work permit was known to be valid until 2012 while Sumartiningsih's latest entry to Hong Kong was on a social visit visa.
Migrant Care executive director Anis Hidayah said the facts indicated that the two could have fallen victim to human traffickers after their initial work permits expired. It was also a reflection on how poor the government's protection for migrant workers was.
'We have assisted numerous cases in Hong Kong where migrant workers have complained about the complicated processes required in getting their work permits extended. The cost for the extension alone can amount to Rp 35 million [US$2,876], which the workers must pay in installments deducted from their monthly salaries,' she said.
'This is a huge burden for them, let alone the lengthy processes that also require them to deal with local agencies in Indonesia,' Anis added.
As a result, she added, many of the workers, particularly those from villages with low education levels, with expiring permits succumbed to the temptation of trafficker rings.
Illegal employers often offer bigger salaries and 'protection' to the workers, not to mention the luxurious lifestyle that they might find attractive.
'They are afraid of the tough punishments imposed by the Hong Kong government, yet do not know where they should go. These uncertainties pave their way into the trap of the traffickers,' she added.
Anis therefore urged the government to treat the murders as a wake-up call to improve the protection of Indonesian workers overseas.
'The Foreign Ministry's quick response to the case indeed deserves appreciation. But, there are also other dimensions of the case to which the government must also pay serious attention,' she said.
Twenty-nine-year-old British banker Rurik Jutting has been charged with killing the two women. He could face life in jail if convicted, despite the victims' parents' desire to see him sentenced to death. (nfo)(+++)
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