A total of eight people have been arrested in Indonesia in what the police have described as their “biggest ever human trafficking” operation.
According to Reuters, the four syndicates targeted had trafficked victims to Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, with at least 1,200 victims lured abroad by promises of higher-paying jobs as domestic workers since 2014.
Indonesian police spokesperson Dedi Prasetyo said on an official Twitter page that the large number of victims makes it the biggest case the authorities have ever uncovered. While he did not specify the gender of the victims, Indonesians who head abroad for domestic work are predominantly female.
Local media reported that the suspects were arrested in March and are set to be charged under anti-trafficking laws that could see them sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.
Despite many reports of abuses and adverse living conditions, countless women from Indonesia head to Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan every year for work as domestic workers. However, after a series of highly-publicized abuse cases, in 2015 Indonesia banned women from going to 21 countries in the Middle East.
Anis Hidayah of the non-profit group Migrant Care says the latest arrests are a step forward but a lot more still needs to be done. He hopes that the arrests will deter traffickers in the future.