Ondy Sweeting talks to the organisation fighting paedophilia in Bali.
When it comes to putting an end to the greatest evil of all – ex-policeman Glen Hulley is fully clued up.
The former private detective and Melbourne cop is the founder of Project Karma – a charity that aims to smash child sexual exploitation in South East Asia – starting with Bali.
Hulley and his team at Project Karma have impressive form in nailing criminals. He was instrumental in putting the notorious Australian paedophile Andrew Ellis behind bars in Bali.
He also created the push in the Australian parliament that put an end to convicted paedophiles from holding a passport and infesting easy target countries where kids and plentiful and poverty is rife.
Underage child sexual exploitation is a $36.6 billion industry globally and crime syndicates know that unlike drugs and weapons, the risks versus gains are comparatively low. Access to kids is high with more than 5.5 kids trafficked across the world last year and a disproportionately large 2.2 million kids were trafficked last year in South East Asia.
But it is the local paedophiles that are the greatest danger to children with about 85 per cent of sexual crimes committed against kids perpetrated by known people.
“Much was made about Robert Ellis operating out of Tabanan but nothing was mentioned about the enablers and the locals who abuse village kids. The family, teachers and trusted communities members who sexually abuse kids,” said Glen.
In fact, child sexual exploitation within the family and community is understood to be far more prevalent and damaging the global paedophile networks.
“In South East Asia child sexual exploitation (CSE) is cultural and girls are over-represented because they are not considered equals. Rape is used to subjugate and condition girls into servitude. Rape upon coming of age is common in the villages of Bali today. Usually it is a man of note who takes it upon himself to ‘educate’ a girl. Because of his position, the rape is ignored unless there is a pregnancy, which cannot be hidden. Families are then forced to report even though it will result in the girl being shamed and often kicked out of the village – or forced to marry her rapist. At least 30 per cent of kids in orphanages have been sexually abused within their village. I’m yet to see evidence of serious paedophile networks operating in Bali. It’s child sexual exploitation at home and in the community,” he says.
A local birthing clinic in Lovina helps girls as young as nine-years old to deliver the babies of abuse, which are then placed in orphanages.
However, Bali does have recruiters who target families in the poorer regions offering loans on condition that a child is handed over as collateral. In some cases children are kidnapped or abandoned or handed over by their parents to recruiters because they cannot afford to raise the child and believe the recruiter can provide a better life. The level or ignorance is high.
“Another huge problem is poverty stricken parent simply selling access to their children to ‘friendly foreigners’ who will repeatedly rape them.
On the Bali’s north east coast near Candi Dasa is the port town of Padang Bai, fizzes with frenetic excitement as tourists sip coffee, chat and wait to board fast boats to the legendary paradise islands of – Gili Trewangan, Air and Meno – off Lombok. But darker stories of child cargo doomed to life of sexual slavery are taking place on the ferries that ply the deep water between Bali and Lombok.
“Padang Bai is a prostitution feeder to Bali for girls and boys from Timur, Sumba, Lombok and Flores. They are sent to be beggars, work in child labour or pickpocketing and, of course, child prostitution,” he said.
Project Karma is working with six desa in Kerangasem who have acknowledged the problems and are frustrated by the lack of solutions. The charity aims to bridge that gap between the village and law enforcement.
The program is based in three foundation pillars;
1. Education, Prevention and Awareness
2. Crime, intelligence and investigation
3. Rehabilitation and the aftercare of rescued children
No NGO has attempted to bring all three strings together in the fight against child sexual exploitation but many have single issue programs that typically aim to infiltrate, uncover and end paedophile networks or identify and rescue victims.
“We must address CSE across all of its many stages. For example at least five of Andrew Ellis’s 11 child victims were found to be living on the streets again within three months of his conviction. They were straight back into the highest risk category for exploitation. This has to end,” he says.
A little known fact is that paedolphilia is considered a mental disorder and it has a place in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–V) – the diagnostic bible for psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health workers.
It is believed to effect 4% of the world’s population – 97% of whom are men – suffer from this disorder with about 70% never acting upon it.
“It is not illegal to be a paedophile – the definition of which is being sexually attracted to pre-pubescent child. Jail time is a deterrent that pushes offenders online and overseas. No amount of therapy can change this inclination and that’s hard for society to accept,” he says.
Based on these figures, Bali is home to more than 200,000 paedophiles at any one time – both local and foreigners.
Reporting of abuse to police represents about 20% of crimes in the west with even fewer cases reported in South East Asia, which remains a popular haven for paedophiles.
“We will never stop organized crime – local and global – when it comes to trafficking kids, but we can cut it off at the knees and that starts with generational behavior in villages,” Glen said.
“I’ve put between 30 and 40 child sex offenders behind bars globally and have interviewed more than 300 offenders to try to establish their motivation and remorse while getting an insight into how they think, which helps in catching them,” Hulley said.
Hulley works relentlessly to raise awareness and garner support from international and local law enforcement, governments, diplomats and embassies to expand Project Karma’s scope. He has partnered with Unicef to collaborate on its child welfare and protection program that will be rolled out in three Indonesian provinces, including Bali, later this year.
In Bali, Project Karma is on target to deliver seminars in Karangasem to local communities to raise awareness and educate prominent members such as teachers and lawyers.
“We provide the framework for local communities to use when it comes to ending accepted behaviours, giving people the skills to identify someone who is in a situation, how to talk about it and what people can expect to be done. This behavior can no longer be swept under the carpet,” he said.
The organization has approval to recruit established village security known as ‘pecalang’ to train for CSE investigation.
“The pecalang already has a mandate to provide policing and this will be broadened with equipment and skills developed to protect kids,” he said.
Project Karma is about empowering communities to become self-sustaining and self-directed in the fight against CSE.
“We are partnering with Indonesian police, the Balinese government plus other NGO’s to catch and prosecute offenders, develop safe houses, counselling, medical care and legal advocacy for the victims and their families,” he said.
Once Project Karma’s model has been created and established for four years, the registered charity will take their operational expertise to new groups of community leaders and trainees and start the process over again.
“In Bali the level of enthusiasm from government officials is outstanding,” he said.
The US Department of Homeland Security, the Australian Federal Police, the Philippines National Police and the Indonesian Police have all expressed support for the project.
Project Karma is a registered charity and yayasan in Indonesia and it does not receive any government funding.
“We’re chasing funding because we survive entirely on private donations with about 99% of all funds going directly to projects,” he said.