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This is a story about human trafficking that you don’t want to hear. But if it’s never heard it will just keep happening.

Saraswati’s story, Indonesia


  • $45 today could help pay the
    legal fees for one woman to
    take her traffickers to court.


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My name is Saraswati*. I’m 23 years of age. I was born in a town in East Java, Indonesia.

'I worked with my parents selling things every day, but we earned merely enough for our daily food and basic needs. There was not enough money to send my younger siblings to school.

'One day I met an old friend named Wahid. He promised me a good job as a waitress in a beach tourist resort on the island of Lombok. The salary he offered was good.

'Wahid asked me to contact the boss, Pak J. He made many promises and a seemingly generous invitation to work for him, so I made the long journey to Lombok by bus and ferry in just one day.

'When I arrived, I was picked up and taken to a place that looked like a boarding house. The place was packed with girls and very young women. No one said a word to each other.

'Then one night I was given some sexy dresses and was ordered to meet someone. A male customer.

'That was when I first realised my fate, my real fate...'


  • APIK, Oxfam’s local partner in Indonesia, provides legal help to victims of human trafficking and women who have suffered domestic violence or discrimination.
  • Find out more about the work of APIK

Sadly, Saraswati was the ideal victim for human traffickers. She was poor and she wanted to help her family. That's what is so upsetting – these criminals prey on girls' love for their families and trick them with false offers of employment into leaving their homes, and safety, behind.

You can rescue women like Saraswati from an unthinkable fate.

Please give $45 today to help Oxfam stop the horror of sex-trafficking.

Two years of forced prostitution

'I had to "meet" two to three men everyday,' continues Saraswati , 'but sometimes I had as many as five or six.'

This went on for two years.

'Each customer paid 200,000 rupiah [around NZ$32] of which just a third was given to me. Most of the money went to the "landlady" of the boarding house and to the hotel. I also had to make a monthly payment to the boarding house for food, laundry, contraception and shots of medicine of some kind.

'The remainder of my monthly earnings I sent to my family.

'Everyday I was strictly watched. No chance to escape. I was powerless...

'Until one day when I was serving a customer the police raided the house and I was taken to the cells. I desperately needed help.'

The fight for justice


  • 'The evidence that I was a victim was very hard to prove because the police believed that I had been benefiting from "the work" I was doing. But thankfully the lawyers at APIK fought for my case.'
  • Find out more about the work of APIK

'The evidence that I was a victim was very hard to prove,' Saraswati says, ‘because the police believed that I had been benefiting from "the work" I was doing. But thankfully the lawyers at APIK fought for my case.'

Oxfam's local partner, APIK, provides legal help to victims of human trafficking and women who have suffered domestic violence or discrimination. They also work with police and community leaders to advocate the fairer treatment of women.

After seven months of court proceedings, Saraswati's trafficker, Pak J, was found guilty under anti-trafficking laws. He was sentenced to four years in prison and fined nearly NZ$19,000.

Saraswati, now reunited with her family, is yet to see one rupiah of the compensation, but she says 'I felt relieved that he was found guilty of trafficking me'.


  • Without the help of Oxfam supporters, the man who tricked Saraswati into the brothel and imprisoned her would probably have walked away free. And Saraswati would have been sentenced to jail for prostitution.

    Donate now

The fact is, without the help of Oxfam supporters, the man who tricked Saraswati into the brothel and imprisoned her there would have probably walked away free. And Saraswati would have been sentenced to jail for prostitution.

For too many victims, the cost of fighting their traffickers in court is simply too high. That’s why Oxfam supports our partner APIK to provide these services for free. It’s the only way to bring justice for the many more women like Saraswati forced into prostitution.

We can't do it without your help. Please help by making a donation of $45 today to help pay for legal fees for one woman to take her traffickers to court.

* We have changed Saraswati's name to protect her identity.