Enhancing Reintegration in Indonesia

Protecting the Unassisted and Underserved: Longitudinal Evidence-Based Research on Assistance and Reintegration

Implementing Agency: NEXUS Institute

Geographic Scope: Indonesia (West Java and Jakarta)

Years: 2013-2016

Project Summary: Well-designed assistance and reintegration programs can assist trafficking victims to better manage and cope with the challenges of returning home and moving on with their lives after trafficking. However, NEXUS’ research has found that many trafficking victims do not receive the assistance they need to recover and reintegrate into their families and communities. Many victims decline to be identified or assisted because the services available do not mesh with their specific post-trafficking needs or with the situations they find themselves in after returning to their families and/or communities. Other victims find that the assistance they need is not available to them.

To ensure that reintegration programs meet the needs of trafficked persons, it is important to talk to trafficked persons about their experiences and needs and to learn how services can better support their recovery and reintegration. NEXUS’ project in Indonesia has done just this – worked directly with trafficked persons and their families to learn how to better support them after trafficking. NEXUS undertook longitudinal, action-oriented research with 108 individuals who have been trafficked to, from and within Indonesia, for different forms of labor and sexual exploitation. This included males and females, adults and children. We interviewed trafficking victims not only about their exploitation, but also about their lives after trafficking and over time, as they sought to recover and reintegrate into their homes and communities. This longitudinal data is being used to inform reintegration interventions in Indonesia, to better respond to the needs of a diverse set of Indonesian trafficking victims.

Countries of exploitation and forms of trafficking for the 108 trafficking victims interviewed.

Destination Countries 17.5.16

This in-depth research project was conducted over a period of two years, following the lives and reintegration experiences of respondents, to learn about the experiences they face over time as they seek to move on from trafficking. The project explored the challenges that service providers and trafficked persons may experience in the reintegration process and what can be done to address these challenges. We conducted interviews with trafficked individuals who have been assisted, to understand how the services they received did (or did not) help them to recover from their negative experiences. We also interviewed trafficked persons who have not been assisted, to learn how they coped after trafficking and what assistance they might have needed.

This project aimed to:

  • enhance an understanding of human trafficking in Indonesia, including how individuals are trafficked, for what forms of exploitation and to what destinations;
  • enhance an understanding of available assistance, with a particular focus on reintegration assistance and support to trafficked persons;
  • explore understudied aspects of trafficking, including, but not limited to, assisting men, the family and community environment of trafficked persons, managing stigma and discrimination after trafficking, and other elements of the trafficking phenomena rarely studied;
  • provide concrete and actionable information to improve interventions that can respond to the needs of a wide range of trafficked persons who are recovering and seeking to move on with their lives after trafficking.

The project resulted in a number of research studies on various issues associated with reintegration, as well as practical resources and tools. Seminars and technical discussions were also part of the project work. Results and findings of the research will be shared with a wide range of organizations and institutions, to help design better reintegration programs and policies in Indonesia.

The project was generously funded by the United States Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP).

Research Studies

Moving On. Family and Community Reintegration Among Indonesian Trafficking Victims (2017)

Available as a compressed pdf for mobile or slower Internet connection

Available in Bahasa Indonesian

Summary Report (available in Bahasa Indonesian)

For many trafficking victims, exit or escape from trafficking is only the beginning of another set of challenges that they face as they seek to recover and reintegrate after a trafficking experience. Not only do they need to come to terms with their exploitation, but they must also navigate the often-complex relationships with family and community after trafficking. Indeed, reintegration takes place within a wide social field – involving different family members and varying community environments. Men and women also experience reintegration differently, as do victims of different forms of exploitation, including those trafficked for sexual exploitation, domestic work, fishing, construction, factory work and plantation work. It is, therefore, important to disentangle the actions and reactions of different family and community members, each of whom may play a different role in either supporting or undermining a victim’s reintegration. This paper explores the challenges faced by trafficked persons as they seek to reintegrate into their families and communities. The paper equally considers settings in which reintegration success is supported and galvanized by family and community members, to identify what can be done to enhance the reintegration outcomes of all Indonesian trafficking victims.

Our Lives. Vulnerability and Resilience Among Indonesian Trafficking Victims (2017)

Available as a compressed pdf for mobile or slower Internet connection

Available in Bahasa Indonesian

Summary Report (available in Bahasa Indonesian)

When trafficked persons escape their exploitation, it is often only the beginning of a complex and taxing process of recovery and reintegration. Trafficked persons must recover from the very serious and debilitating effects of trafficking exploitation. They often have a range of short- and long-term assistance needs, which are directly related to and often caused by their trafficking experiences, including issues related to housing and accommodation, physical and mental health, their economic situations, education and training, safety and security, legal status, legal issues and needs within the family. In addition, human trafficking is often a function of broader, structural inequality and individual vulnerability. This means that trafficked persons must also navigate and tackle underlying and pre-existing vulnerabilities that contributed to being trafficked and which also have the potential to undermine reintegration. This paper discusses what Indonesian trafficked persons have identified as their issues, vulnerabilities and resiliencies at different stages of their lives – before trafficking, as a consequence of trafficking exploitation and over the course of their recovery and reintegration. The paper also explores how vulnerability and resilience are influenced by external factors like the family and community setting into which trafficked persons seek to reintegrate and how vulnerability and resilience may fluctuate and change over time.

Going Home. Challenges in the Reintegration of Trafficking Victims in Indonesia (2016)

Available as a compressed pdf for mobile or slower Internet connection

Available in Bahasa Indonesian

Summary Report

Executive Summary (available in Bahasa Indonesian)

In Indonesia there is a range of laws, policies and programs in place to support the reintegration of trafficked persons. These include efforts and initiatives by various government ministries and departments (at the national, provincial and district levels), NGOs and IOs and they afford often-critical support and services to many victims after trafficking. Nonetheless, many Indonesian trafficking victims do not receive the assistance and support that they need to recover from their trafficking experiences and reintegrate into their families and communities. And those that do receive assistance do not always receive assistance that is suited to their needs or adequately supports their efforts to reintegrate. This is the result of critical challenges in the current response in Indonesia, including: 1) that many trafficked persons are unidentified; 2) reintegration is not clearly defined or understood; 3) most assistance is “one-off” support; 4) assistance programs are only short-term; 5) victims face barriers in accessing available services; 6) lack of information about reintegration assistance; 7) lack of assistance to trafficked men; 8) lack of case management and tailored reintegration support; and 9) an uneven provision of assistance due to decentralization and the geographic distribution of services. This paper is a starting point in better understanding how reintegration of trafficked persons currently takes place in Indonesia, including what is working well and what constitute constraints and obstacles for trafficked persons to the reintegration process.

In December 2015, NEXUS hosted a national seminar with the Government of Indonesia to workshop and finalize Going Home. Please see full details below, under Seminars, Workshops and Events.

See also Human Trafficking in Indonesia: The Difficult Road Home (photo essay)


At Home: Family Reintegration of Trafficked Indonesian Men (2018)

Large numbers of Indonesian men migrate each year for work in construction, in factories and in agriculture, on plantations and on fishing boats. Many of them end up exploited in ways that constitute human trafficking, suffering violence, deprivation, restricted freedom and severe exploitation as well as long periods of separation from their families. This article explores the challenges faced by forty-nine Indonesian men reintegrating into their families and communities after having been trafficked. While many problems with the family were caused by economics, tensions also resulted from long separations, fractured relationships, and frustration and blame over ‘failed’ migration and unfulfilled expectations. Tensions were sometimes exacerbated when men faced recrimination and blame in their communities after return. Understanding the nature of and reasons for the problems that men faced after trafficking is vital in considering how trafficked men and their families can be supported to recover and reintegrate after trafficking.

Book Chapters

Being Home. Exploring Family Reintegration Among Trafficked Indonesian Domestic Workers. In Routledge Handbook of Human Trafficking (2017)

Escape or exit from trafficking is a critical moment in the lives of trafficked persons. It is, in many ways, a new beginning or a return to normal life. But “being home” is far from an easy or smooth transition. It is, often times, a complex, taxing and complicated process that involves significant challenges. The process of reintegration encompasses not only individual trafficking victims but also their family members and the family environment to which they return. Trafficked persons must recover and come to terms not only with their own exploitation, but also the reactions and responses of their family members. Moreover, the family of trafficked persons have also been negatively affected by the victim’s trafficking and must also navigate and manage return and reintegration. In many situations, exit from trafficking is the beginning of another set of challenges – at a personal level and within the family. And yet too little is known about the issues that trafficked persons and their families face in the process of reintegration. This chapter seeks to widen the lens, to include the actions and reactions of individual trafficking victims and their families, including the interplay of the two and how this changes over time. Based on fieldwork conducted in Indonesia from 2014 to 2016, this chapter explores multi-layered tensions, complications and challenges that Indonesian trafficking victims and their family members face in reintegrating after a trafficking experience. It considers in particular the challenges faced by Indonesian women trafficked as domestic workers as they reunite with their families, including financial problems resulting from or exacerbated by trafficking; tensions and conflict due to stress or distress; feelings of shame or being blamed; and damage to family relationships. Identifying, disentangling and understanding common points of tension and complication is a valuable starting point for improved reintegration programs and policies.

ethical concerns book

Doing no harm. Ethical challenges in research with trafficked persons, in Ethical Concerns in Research on Human Trafficking (2016)

Central to any ethical research is the principle of “do no harm”, that when conducting research we do no harm to the persons we are researching and whose experiences we are seeking to explore and understand. This principle is especially critical when conducting research with persons in vulnerable situations, like trafficking victims. And yet avoiding harm is neither simple nor direct; there are many challenges and fault lines in terms of navigating this ethical space. This chapter discusses the different aspects of providing information about assistance to respondents when conducting research with trafficking victims, as a means of preventing and mitigating research harm. At the same time, we highlight the obstacles in identifying assistance options and offering referral information to respondents, both in terms of the actual existence of services and their appropriateness and desirability for respondents. Challenges include when services are unavailable, when services are available but inappropriate or undesirable, when services are inaccessible to trafficking victims due to their legal status and difficulties in accessing services because of personal and practical barriers.

Project Resources

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 11.35.56 AMDirectory of Services for Indonesian Trafficking Victims and Exploited Migrant Workers (2016)

Available in Bahasa

Foreword from Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection

Foreword from Ministry of Social Affairs

Foreword & Acknowledgements from NEXUS Institute

This Directory provides concrete information to trafficked persons and exploited migrant workers about the services available to them, which can support their recovery and reintegration. It is intended as a tool to improve trafficking victims’ access to information about services and how to access receive these services. The Directory covers government and NGO services in Jakarta and in West Java. The information is provided in simple, comprehensible language and a visually accessible format.

The Directory was launched on April 29, 2016 in conjunction with the Government of Indonesia, the US Embassy and IOM.

Please see the press release for the launch of the Directory of Services, available in English and Bahasa.

Seminars, Workshops and Events

National Seminar: Research on the reintegration of trafficking victims in Indonesia. Conducted by NEXUS Institute, Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Ministry of Social Affairs, December 14, 2015.

On December 14, 2015, NEXUS conducted a national seminar on reintegration of trafficking victims in partnership with the Government of Indonesia’s Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection (MoWECP) and Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA). The national seminar was opened and facilitated by Mr. Heru (Deputy of Women’s Protection, MoWECP), Ms. Niken (Deputy Assistant for the Protection of Victims of Trafficking, MoWECP), Dr. Sonny W. Manulu (Director of Directorate of Social Rehabilitation and Social Disadvantage, MoSA) and Mrs. Iim (Head of Unit of Data and Policy Analysis, MoWECP). The national seminar: Sharing findings from research on the reintegration of trafficking victims in Indonesia, was attended by representatives from the National Anti-Trafficking Task Force, representing a wide range of government ministries and sectors. The seminar was also attended by representatives from the government, civil society, international organizations, universities and various embassies.

IMG_7601 IMG_7566 IMG_7629

The purpose of the seminar was to share results from NEXUS’ study entitled: Going Home. Challenges in the Reintegration of Trafficking Victims in Indonesia and to encourage a discussion of the reintegration framework in the country. In addition to NEXUS’ presentation of is research results, the Ministry of Social Affairs presented its work in the area of social rehabilitation and reintegration.

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 1.18.08 PMPower Point Presentation from Ministry of Social Affairs in Bahasa

Technical Discussion: The role of social workers in the reintegration of trafficking victims in Indonesia. Conducted by NEXUS Institute, Ministry of Social Affairs and the Indonesian Association of Social Workers for Children and Families (APSAKI), May 24, 2016.

This technical discussion was made possible with the support of MoSA, APSAKI and the Mentors Foundation.

The technical discussion was held at the Ministry of Social Affairs’ Social Work Training Centre on May 24, 2016. The event was opened by Drs. Manggana Lubis (Director of MoSA’s Social Work Training Centre), Pak Acusman (President of APSAKI), Pak Agus (Head of Trafficking Unit, MoSA) and Rebecca Surtees (Senior Researcher at NEXUS Institute). The event was attended by 30 state social workers and members of the Indonesian Association of Social Workers for Children and Families (APSAKI). The technical discussion built on and shared lessons from NEXUS’ longitudinal research project on the reintegration of trafficking victims in Indonesia.


Pak Acusman, President of APSAKI, opens the technical discussion on the role of social workers in supporting the reintegration of trafficking victims


Pak Agus, Head of Trafficking Unit, MoSA, provides introductory remarks on MoSA policy for assisting trafficking victims


Pak Wawan Setiawati, APSAKI Social Worker, speaks at the technical discussion


Rebecca Surtees, NEXUS Senior Researcher, welcomes participants to the technical discussion on reintegration of trafficking victims


Suarni Dang Caya, NEXUS Researcher, facilitates a session on the roles and responsibilities of social workers in reintegration


Thaufiek Zulbahary, NEXUS Researcher, facilitates a session on “what is successful reintegration”

Social workers engage in group work at the technical discussion


Ibu Herawati, Social Worker, speaks at the technical discussion


Participants in the technical discussion

Technical discussion photographs by Thaufiek Zulbahary. All rights reserved.

Technical Discussion: Enhancing reintegration of trafficking victims in Indonesia. Conducted by NEXUS Institute, May 26-27, 2016.

This technical discussion was funded by the Mentor’s Foundation.

On May 26 and 27, 2016, NEXUS held a technical discussion in Puncak, West Java, with civil society organizations, on enhancing the reintegration of trafficking victims. The technical discussion focused on sharing experiences and lessons learned among service providers in West Java and Jakarta, including challenges and obstacles faced in supporting the reintegration of trafficking victims. The technical discussion also explored how to enhance reintegration services and support in going forward.

The technical discussion was attended by service providers from 14 NGOs who support the reintegration of trafficking victims in Jakarta and various districts of West Java. NGOs in attendance included:

  • FSPILN (Forum Serikat Pekerja Indonesia Luar Negeri/Forum for Indonesian Overseas Workers Union), Cirebon
  • FWBMI (Forum Warga Buruh Migran Indonesia/Citizen Forum for Indonesian Migrant Workers), Cirebon
  • SBMI DPN (Serikat Buruh Migran Indonesia/Indonesian Migrant Workers Union National Board, Jakarta)
  • SBMC (Solidaritas Buruh Migran Cianjur/Solidarity of Migrant Workers Cianjur), Cianjur
  • SBMI Cianjur (Serikat Buruh Migran Indonesia/Indonesian Migrant Workers Union), Cianjur
  • SBMI Cirebon (Serikat Buruh Migran Indonesia/Indonesian Migrant Workers Union), Cirebon
  • SBMI Indramayu (Serikat Buruh Migran Indonesia/Indonesian Migrant Workers Union), Indramayu
  • SBMI Sukabumi (Serikat Buruh Migran Indonesia/Indonesian Migrant Workers Union), Sukabumi
  • SP (Solidaritas Perempuan/Solidarity for Women), Jakarta
  • SPILN (Serikat Pekerja Indonesia Luar Negeri/Indonesian Overseas Workers Union), Jakarta
  • WCC Balqis (Women’s Crisis Centre), Cirebon
  • Yayasan Bandungwangi (Bandunwangi Foundation), Jakarta
  • Yayasan Bahtera (Bahtera Foundation), Bandung
  • YKB (Yayasan Kusuma Bongas/Kusuma Bongas Foundation), Indramayu



Small group discussion with FSPILN (Cirebon), Solidaritas Perempuan (Jakarta), Women’s Crisis Center Balqis (Cirebon) and SBMI (Cianjur).


Thaufiek Zulbahary (NEXUS) presents NEXUS’ framework for successful reintegration, including outcomes and indicators for monitoring reintegration work.


Erna Murniaty (SBMI DPN, Jakarta) shares her experience in working on the reintegration of Indonesian trafficking victims. Other participants in the photo include SBMI (Cianjur), SBMI (Indramayu), SP (Jakarta), SBMI DPN (Jakarta), SMBC (Cianjur), SBMI (Sukabumi), Bandunwangi (Jakarta) and WCC Balqis (Indramayu).


Iskandar Zulkanaen (SPILN Jakarta) shares his experience in supporting trafficked Indonesian fishers through the legal process.


Small group work analyzing experiences of successful and unsuccessful reintegration – SBMI DPN (Jakarta), Bandungwangi (Jakarta) and Bahtera Foundation (Bandung).


Thaufiek Zulbahary and Suarni Daeng Caya (NEXUS) facilitate a session on available services for supporting the reintegration of trafficking victims, including how to overcome barriers in accessing these services.


Small group discussion analyzing different forms of trafficking including labor and sexual exploitation – SBMC (Cianjur), SBMI (Cirebon) and SBMI (Indramayu).


Small group work about case management and referrals with Bandungwangi (Jakarta), SP (Jakarta) and SBMI (Indramayu).


Analyzing trafficking cases in small groups – FWBMI (Cirebon), YKB (Indramayu) and SBMI (Sukabumi).


Small group discussion about identifying trafficking victims attended by YKB (Indramayu), SBMC (Cianjur), SPILN (Jakarta), WCC Balqis (Cirebon) and Bahtera Foundation (Bandung).


Castra Ajisarosa (SBMI Cirebon) shares his experience in working with trafficking victims in Cirebon.


Endang Supriyati (Bandungwangi, Jakarta) presents her organization’s work in the reintegration of trafficking victims. Other participants include Heti Kusumawati (SBMC, Cianjur), Jejen Nurjanah (SBMI Sukabumi) and Lutfiah Handayani (WCC Balqis, Cirebon).


Suarni Dang Caya (NEXUS) discusses ethical principles in reintegration work.


Mapping exercise: visualizing opportunities and services for enhancing reintegration of trafficking victims in their communities.


Suarni Daeng Caya and Thaufiek Zulbahary (NEXUS) facilitate a discussion on next steps in reintegration efforts in Indonesia.


Participants at NEXUS Institute’s technical discussion on enhancing the reintegration of Indonesian trafficking victims.

Technical Discussion photographs by Rebecca Surtees. All rights reserved.
Photographs by Peter Biro. All rights reserved.
Photographs on this page illustrate various aspects of daily life in Indonesia. Unless stated otherwise, individuals in these photographs are not trafficking victims..