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Addressing the Indonesian Oxygen CrisisIndonesia is currently a major COVID-19 hotspot. In light of the Delta variant’s arrival, Indonesia’s total number of coronavirus cases significantly increased in June 2021 and continued to grow in July 2021. The outbreak is one of the worst in the region. As a result of the outbreak, oxygen is in short supply in Indonesia. With many Indonesian hospitals at full capacity, it is difficult for Indonesia’s COVID-19 patients to access adequate medical treatment, including oxygen. The provinces of Java and Bali are particularly impacted by the Indonesian oxygen crisis.

The Indonesian Government’s Response to the Oxygen Shortage

The Indonesian oxygen crisis is causing oxygen prices to rise due to scarcity. With oxygen cylinders now costing approximately $120, oxygen is becoming inaccessible for people with low incomes. As coronavirus cases increase, the discrepancy between the number of oxygen tanks available and the oxygen tanks needed is growing.

The Indonesian national government sought to alleviate the oxygen crisis by seeking foreign aid. The Indonesian government requested aid from many countries to help with the oxygen shortage, which it received. The government also instructed oxygen producers to prioritize making medical oxygen and extended emergency COVID-19 procedures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Local officials are also working to minimize the shortage by preventing unnecessary oxygen acquisition. Seeking to prevent panicked stockpiling, officials in Jakarta asked residents not to hoard oxygen in order to prevent civilians from exacerbating the crisis by preemptively buying oxygen and artificially increasing the demand for oxygen.

Organizations and Businesses Step in

Private initiatives are also helping combat the Indonesian oxygen crisis. Action Our Indonesia Movement (GITA) is a volunteer-run group in Indonesia working to provide oxygen at a lower cost than hospitals. The organization allows Indonesians in need of oxygen to rent cylinders at a lower cost than what hospitals can provide. GITA owns 400 oxygen cylinders that it received through donations. Its work does not solve the problem of the shortage of oxygen to fill cylinders with, but it does help make oxygen accessible to Indonesians of all income levels.

Indonesian businesses are contributing to oxygen relief efforts in a variety of ways. Ranging from oxygen donations to assistance with oxygen transportation logistics, Indonesian companies and state-owned enterprises are providing vital relief during the Indonesian oxygen crisis.

Responses From Outside of Indonesia

Governments and organizations across the world are working to help resolve the Indonesian oxygen crisis. Several governments responded to Indonesia’s request for oxygen support, including the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and the United States. The aid came in the form of much-needed medical supplies, including medical oxygen.

Corporations are donating to relief efforts in Indonesia. Google made a $1 million donation to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Indonesia for COVID-19 relief efforts. Singapore-based companies, such as DBS Bank, Singtel and CapitaLand Hope Foundation, provided the Indonesian state with oxygen concentrators.

Nonstate actors are also providing vital support to Indonesia. UNICEF sent medical oxygen as well as vaccines to Indonesia to mitigate the current crisis and prevent it from worsening. The Red Cross is assisting with oxygen distribution efforts in Indonesia.

These collective efforts will ensure that the nation can overcome the Indonesian oxygen crisis, providing an inspiring example of a united international community amid a global health pandemic.

– Caroline Kuntzman
Photo: Unsplash

10 Facts About Child Sex Trafficking in IndonesiaIn recent years, Indonesia has been struggling to address the grim issue of child sex trafficking. Although laws are in place to provide protection for children, there is still much work to be done in implementing these policies. Tourist hot spots such as Bali and urban centers are where trafficking and exploitation of children thrive. Here are 10 facts about child sex trafficking in Indonesia.

10 Facts About Child Sex Trafficking in Indonesia

  1. There are an estimated 70,000-80,000 victims of child sex trafficking in Indonesia. Despite this alarmingly high number, Indonesian authorities arrested only 132 traffickers in 2019. The police struggle to identify victims and rely heavily on assistance from NGOs.
  2. Up to 30% of Indonesia’s commercial sex workers are female victims of child sex trafficking. Underage girls represent a majority of child sex trafficking victims, but boys are also at high risk.
  3. Foreign tourists are often complicit. Australians and Singaporeans, in particular, have been major culprits in committing acts of sexual abuse towards children in Indonesia, along with smaller numbers of other nationalities.
  4. Sometimes friends and family members force children into sex work. When it comes to child sex trafficking, brokers are highly varied and can be family members of victims.
  5. Indonesia is a source and destination country for child sex trafficking. In addition to urban centers in Indonesia, child sex workers have been trafficked to Malaysia, Taiwan, the Middle East and other regions.
  6. Poverty due to natural disasters plays a role. Natural disasters have been a major reason for mass displacement and chronic poverty in many of Indonesia’s thousands of islands. Victims of child sex trafficking often originate from situations of displacement.
  7. There are 4 million impoverished children at risk. This is an estimate by the Indonesian government of children that are living in abject poverty and are at risk of exploitation. Addressing poverty, therefore, is an essential component of ending child sex trafficking.
  8. High rates of urban youth homelessness also lead to increased trafficking. There are an estimated 16,000 homeless children living in urban centers throughout Indonesia. Living on the streets greatly increases the vulnerability of these children.
  9. The police only enforce laws when under pressure. NGOs report that Indonesian police aren’t likely to intervene in child sex trafficking situations unless they are under pressure by the government or the international community to do so. Some of this is due to a lack of funding.
  10. Child sex trafficking is no longer an unknown problem. Thanks to the tireless work of NGOs and aid organizations, there is now more awareness and advocacy for child protection in Indonesia.

Solutions

The NGO Dark Bali operates using three steps of prevention, intervention and rehabilitation in assisting victims. The first step involves combating poverty, offering protection and educating vulnerable families. It identifies intervention as the weakest link in protecting children, so Dark Bali raises awareness of the issue and puts pressure on law enforcement to intervene in cases of child sex trafficking. Lastly, the NGO offers long-term rehabilitation for victims, along with educational programs and job training.

Project Karma is an Australia-based charity run by a former detective that assists Indonesian police in apprehending child sex traffickers throughout Southeast Asia. Their operations have rescued more than 200 children and brought more than 30 sex traffickers to justice for their crimes. In addition to raising awareness, Project Karma also utilizes digital platforms to alert authorities of pedophile rings and posts photos of fugitives throughout the region.

Australia has addressed cases of its citizens sexually abusing children in Southeast Asia by banning travel for convicted pedophiles. This applies to 20,000 Australians that were convicted at home or abroad. For those that sexually abused children abroad, the country has some of the world’s strictest punishments, with sentences of up to 25 years in prison.

Conclusion

Thanks to coordinated NGO task forces throughout the country, the issue of child sex trafficking in Indonesia is a more widely known societal problem. With the continued work of these organizations, the Indonesian government and police forces are under more pressure to implement laws protecting children. Important connections have been made between NGOs and law enforcement that will be crucial to ending child sex trafficking in Indonesia.

– Matthew Brown
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Bali
Despite welcoming more than 3 million visitors per year and the total from revenue from tourism that is expected to reach US $5.5 billion annually, many of Bali’s inhabitants are living in extreme poverty. But with so much income—$5.5 billion for its 3.8 million Balinese—why is there poverty in Bali?

In Bali, there are as many as 162,051 people living in poverty and this figure has been on the increase. In the villages, the rate at which the number of poor is rising is twice as much as that of Bali’s urban areas. In the Balinese countryside, it is estimated that more than 77,400 people are living in poverty. Currently, in 82 villages out of Bali’s 706 villages, the poverty rate hovers above 35 percent. To make matters worse, on this tourism-focused island where the number of tourists almost matches that of the locals, the incomes of farmers are dwindling and the prices of essential goods are becoming more and more unaffordable to many Balinese.

In remote villages—and “remote” in Bali means an hour or two away from the glittering 5-star hotels—the residents are very poor and most villages lack education, access to clean water and even electricity. Many children must walk for kilometers to go to school. Furthermore, as the more fertile south is overdeveloped, many Balinese are only left with the infertile dry soil of the north and the east to farm on. Due to the lack of jobs and opportunities, men from the villages must also leave to find jobs in the tourism sector, leaving their wives and children. Thus, oftentimes women must work disproportionately, covering both their absent husbands’ tasks as well as their own tasks. In the resort towns, rural migrant workers still earn very little in comparison to what the business establishments whom they work for are earning from tourism. The minimum salary in Bali is only 1,542,600.00 Indonesian Rupiah, or around US $125.

I Made Mangku Pastika, Bali’s governor had made a statement calling the island’s thriving tourism a “disaster” for the poor. He expressed his concern that as prices of basic necessities skyrocket, farmers in need of cash would be forced to sell their land—the only real property they own—in order to make ends meet. The governor had previously fought to stave off further tourism-accommodation developments into the Balinese inland, however due to the political administrative structure, many local authorities ignored his initiative. Trapped in the dilemma of tourism being both the island’s lifeblood as well as—in the words of the governor—a disaster for the poor.

Nevertheless, the governor—now in his second term—is diligently working on solving his island’s economic discrepancy, with many poverty-alleviation plans such as the integrated farming scheme, the installation of solar panels, housing aid and the free healthcare plan. The governor—realizing the injustice of this developmental disparity—also plans to bring down the rate of extreme poverty (people living on less than $2 per day) down from the current figure.

– Peewara Sapsuwan

Sources: The Bali Times, WageIndicator.org, The Bali Times, The Jakarta Post, Australia Network News, The Jakarta Post, Asia News Network,
Photo: Tripping

The Unequal RealityThe next global development agenda has been set. The President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, hosted the meeting to determine such an agenda; he also served as the co-chairman to the UN High-Level Panel for the post-2015 plan with an emphasis on eradicating extreme poverty. Despite the general success of the UN Millennium Development Goals which includes pulling people out of poverty since the 1990s, an increasing number of children are attending schools, and much fewer children are dying due to curable causes: “political will and commitment can bring about real change.”

The issue is that the majority of these successes are happening on the surface, on the “aggregate” levels as opposed to on the extremely low levels. A report done by Save the Children evinces the hidden inequality behind improvements arguing that only wealthier parts have been directly affected by these successes. For example, rich women in Indonesia now have a skilled attendant; however, between 2007 and 2010, children in poorer households continued to experience severe malnutrition despite overall nutrition improvements.

“Aggregate targets” are dictating such unequal distribution of improvement vs. worsening because governments are naturally choosing to aid and invest in what is easier to help; “this means that those close to the poverty line experience improvements while the very poorest are left behind.” Children are the most vulnerable group affected by such inequality because they are dependent on others for development and growth. Therefore, price increases affect their meal intakes, health budget cuts could cause deaths, and low-quality schools have the potential of keeping these children in poverty. In order to fight off inequality, there is a need for quality services such as availability and equal access to schools and health facilities to all kinds of people.

– Leen Abdallah

Source: South China Morning Post