Aumenta il numero dei pedofili sranieri che si recano nelle remoe regioni di ingaraja, Buleleng e Karangasem, a Bali: 74 bambini vittime di violenza sessuale solo a settembre dello scorso anno.
A Bali agisce il racket australiano della pedofilia: ricorre anche a finte adozioni di bambini da famiglie poverissime, per poi sottoporli ad abusi sessuali. E un nutrito gruppo di australiani residenti nell'isola organizza tour incentrati sul sesso con i minori, al punto che Bali e' stata identificata come “rifugio sicuro” per i pedofili con un numero crescente di 'clienti', indipendenti e organizzati, che visitano l'isola o vi si insediano con il solo fine di abusare di bambini.
''La differenza tra il pedofilo e il violentatore corrisponde a quella tra proporre e imporre” teorizzava nel 1996 William Andraghetti, 40 anni, operatore turistico bolognese e pedofilo dichiarato, “il pedofilo propone un rapporto a un minore, che puo' accettare o rifiutare, mentre il violentatore si prende comunque il piacere con la forza''. Cinque anni dopo, dal palco del Congresso di Stoccolma, una ragazzina filippina spiegò: “Qui nelle Filippine la situazione è tale che per sopravvivere occorre prostituirsi. E questi bambini ne hanno bisogno, perché le famiglie non possono mantenerli. Ecco perché vanno con i turisti”.
APATHY, poverty, corruption and a convoluted bureaucracy are foiling efforts to combat child sex tourism in Bali, say Indonesian Child Protection Commission officials in the island province.
They complain of rising numbers of foreign pedophiles operating flagrantly, mainly in the remote, impoverished areas of Singaraja, Buleleng and Karangasem in Bali's east.
Bali police reported 74 child sex victims in the months to September last year, but figures for Singaraja, where several foreign pedophiles are jailed, are not yet recorded. In 2009 there were 32 victims in Buleleng alone, with about 200 overall.
Little wonder there is exasperation at low conviction rates. Thirteen pedophiles -- most foreign -- were convicted between 2001 and 2008, according to an Indonesian police report. Two were Australian -- former diplomat and AusAID worker William Brown, who committed suicide in 2004, and Philip Grandfield, still in jail.
Yet 150 pedophiles are estimated by the local Committee Against Sexual Abuse to be sexually exploiting children on the island.
CASA, which has the backing of provincial governor Made Pastika, was founded by Bali-based psychiatrist Ni Luh Suryani, one of many who say offences have proliferated in the past year.
"The police don't do surveillance because they prefer the children to report first, to give evidence. But the children don't like to report to police," Suryani says.
Increased cases of child sex tourism are attributed not just to poverty and bribery, but also to internet pedophile rings and weak local law enforcement.
Disclosure of abuse victims and unreliable records reflect these factors, says the head of the Indonesian Commission for Child Protection, Bali chapter, Anak Ayu Sri Wahyuni, whose office operates on a shoestring annual budget of 50 million rupiah ($5500).
"Though reports of child sexual abuse to police have increased since the implementation of a 2002 child protection law, the cases are just the tip of the iceberg," she says.
Paying police and villagers for protection, foreign pedophiles ingratiate themselves with families, buy food, small gifts, pay off loans and sponsor children's education .
"We think they [pedophiles] work underground like terrorism specialists for children. Local government and public awareness is not growing," Wahyuni says. "We think there is world network of organised pedophiles operating through social organisations in poor areas in Buleleng and Karangasem, and tourism areas."
Officials and non-government organisations also cite evidence of Western men, including Australians, marrying girls of 14 and 15, and engaging in polygamy.
As Bali's popularity surges after the 2002 and 2005 terrorist attacks, real estate demand and living costs are rising and the divide between rich and poor widens, rendering destitute locals more susceptible to Western predators.
A contributor to The Jakarta Post and a CASA investigator, Alit Kertaraharja, supplies information about pedophiles to police. His evidence led to the arrest of French pedophile Michel Heller in 2005. Kertaraharja says he saw Martial Juegler before his arrest driving busloads of children around Singaraja. He describes the methods pedophiles use to camouflage their motives. "Martial [who also used the alias Komang] spoke fluent Indonesian and Balinese . . . He was so [tanned], he looked like an Indonesian; he had integrated into society. People were not suspicious because of how he looked and spoke."
A cultural acceptance of child sex is another hurdle, Suryani says. "No one helps the victims and the police think sexual abuse of children is just normal."
Suryani has successfully lobbied foreign consulates for support but has faced opposition from tourism groups fearing the issue taints the island's image. Deputy head of the Indonesian Child Protection Commission in Bali, Luh Putu Anggreni, says protection money to police and uneducated villagers hamper arrests. "The pedophiles become village members and are seen as angels or Santa, because they help people by teaching English, buying food and housing. [Some] villagers . . . sell their children to abusers for money," Anggreni says.
Arrested offenders also allegedly pay police in exchange for light sentences, she says. "We are aware of increasing pedophilia networks in Karangasem, Singaraja, Sanur, Ubud , Denpasar, Kuta, Gianyar. We know there are many old men from Germany, Australia, Holland and France involved. They've moved from the beach areas to the mountains. They try to find remote areas," Anggreni says.
In tourist areas, hotel receptionists and tour operators naively allow street kids near hotels. "They think they [pedophiles] are being kind to the kids. It's very rare the children will speak about abuse.
"The men take them out for dinner, walk on the beach, swim, watch blue films. One child gets friends together and [then] they have sex. Some children enjoy it . . . Some are traumatised and some commit suicide."
Anggreni says police don't see sexual abuse of children as a "real" crime. In any case, victims' costs and the tortuous bureaucracy involved in an investigation ensures cases rarely see the light of day.
IF child sex offenders are often ignored in remote regions, it's little better amid Kuta's bars, or on beaches where Western men brazenly pair with children and teens.
Agustina Padatu, who runs a Kuta orphanage, Yayasan Permata Bali, for street kids from east Bali, says child sex offences in tourist areas also tend to be ignored by police. "No one is reporting organised child sex tours. Children from the age of nine are being offered R2m to R3m. They [the children] are happy to get the money and their parents want the money too."
There is organised sex trafficking to Bali, she says. "The children come from Java, Jakarta, Manado and Surabaya. They are promised restaurant or hotel jobs on good salaries. When they arrive they are used in the sex trade."
While the Indonesian government stepped up efforts to combat trafficking in line with the Anti-Human Trafficking Law in 2007 and amendments last year to punish sex offenders, the Indonesian Commission for Child Protection says implementation is not fully applied across the country.
AusAID provides support through its $21m anti-trafficking program, the Asia Regional Trafficking in Persons Project, in which Indonesia is a partner.
BERNADETTE McMenamin, national director of Child Wise, Australia's peak child protection lobby group, is scathing about what she describes as inaction by Australian Federal Police against Australian child sex offenders in Indonesia, where Child Wise has been working for 12 years.
The AFP travelled twice to Bali this year to assess the level of child sex tourism, a crime that carries a maximum jail term of 17 years for Australian offenders.
Commenting on the outcome, an AFP official says: "The AFP has not seen any anecdotal [or] official evidence to suggest a surge in child sex offenders from Australia travelling to Bali."
There is, however, recognition of the growing convergence between online crimes against children and child sex tourism. It is also preferred that "local jurisdictions . . . investigate and prosecute offenders", the AFP official says.
McMenamin says: "The government will not take responsibility for exporting sex offenders. All the cases prosecuted have come about through non-government organisations."
Project Childhood, designed by Child Wise and funded by AusAID to combat child sex tourism in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, was dropped in Indonesia in 2009 "even though [AusAID] said this is the biggest destination for Australian child sex tourists", she says.
Foreign pedophiles have infiltrated schools, orphanages, street kids' centres and other development agencies overseas, McMenamin says.
"Our laws are good but they are not proactive about going after child sex offenders who travel, the locals are not educated enough to report concerns and judges are not enforcing the laws," she adds.
Child protection officials and Suryani have appealed through Inquirer for Australian government help to arrest offenders in Bali.
But Singaraja police are starting to piece together evidence of pedophile activity. Head of the police for the Protection of Women and Children in Singaraja, I Gusti Ayu Intayani, says Grandfield, who is in Singaraja jail, has friends linked to an organised child sex ring.
In addressing the poverty that makes such sexual exploitation possible, commitments ranging from housing to health education are being made by foreign NGOs.
The charity I'm an Angel, run by Asana Viebeke Lengkong, provides mobile health clinics, food and education supplies to remote areas in Karangasem.
An NGO that has had enormous social impact in the district of Ban is the East Bali Poverty Project, earning its founder, Briton David Booth, an MBE for services to help development in east Bali.