Journeys out of the Ordinary | Bunga

Date: Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Photo: UN Women/M R Hasan

I first decided to go abroad to work because I was separated from my husband and wanted to support my mother, my siblings and my young son. I found a job announcement on Facebook for work overseas as a waitress in Malaysia, and I contacted the person who placed the announcement.

The job looked legitimate. There were administrative requirements and procedures, and I had to provide certificates and even a sponsor letter from the head of my village. I was told that I could go in two months, but I wanted to go right away and I arranged with the “recruiter” to be able go in two weeks. I didn’t tell my family about my plans. I went to meet the “recruiter” and she told me that all I had to do was show my passport to someone who would meet me at the airport.

When I arrived at the airport, a man approached me and asked for my passport. Then he took me to a place to spend the night while I waited for my flight. I thought I could trust him, so I followed him. But when I went to the bathroom, he followed me and tried to rape me.

I panicked and ran away. I went into a mosque and called the “recruiter” to tell her what happened. But she just said, “You don't have to worry. He was just teasing you. It's not serious”. I couldn’t understand why she acted like it was nothing.

Then my flight was postponed four times and I ended up taking a ferry to Malaysia. When I finally got there I was exhausted. Two men approached me and asked for my passport, and I showed it to them. I thought that that was the rule, so I handed it over. They took my passport and my mobile phone. Then they took me to an apartment and gave me a room to rest. Then I overheard them talking about bringing me to Kuala Lumpur and I began to get worried, and thought maybe this wasn’t the job that I thought it was.

I told them that I wanted to go home, and I tried to leave, but I couldn't get out. The men got rough with me and the last thing I remember is one of them kicking me. Then I fainted, and when I woke up my hands were tied behind my back.

I was able to free myself, but one of the men tried to force himself on me. I begged him not to rape me, and when he went to the bathroom, I saw my passport, Qur'an and prayer scarf and grabbed them. I didn’t even take my shoes or bag.

I went to a mosque for safety and was helped by the guardian to reach the Indonesian Embassy. At the Embassy, I didn't speak for two days. I was in shock. One officer at the Embassy was kind to me, but another accused me of making up the story. The kind one helped me, and I was repatriated to Indonesia.

When I arrived at the airport in Jakarta, someone from the migrant workers’ association was waiting for me and she comforted me.

As time goes by I feel myself getting stronger and regaining my spirit. I am so grateful for the support that I’m getting to rebuild my life. I’m still uncomfortable with strangers or meeting new people, but working at the migrant workers’ association is teaching me to regain my confidence and to look forward, not back.

I had been in too much of a hurry to go abroad, and I was too trusting. I also didn’t tell anyone where I was going. I thought that if I came back with money for my family everything would be OK. I was totally wrong. I still have difficulty trusting people who I don’t know, except for the people at the migrant workers’ association who help me. My message to other women considering migration is: “Be extremely careful who you trust, especially on social media. Check job opportunities carefully and get advice if possible. Make sure someone knows where you’re going.”