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If you encounter Shandra Woworuntu, you would not expect that this Minahasa-Javanese-blooded woman could have been the victim of illegal trade syndicate and sex worker. Shandra is an economics scholar, who successfully worked on the Korean Exchange Bank Indonesia as a financial analyst before the 1998 Monetary Crisis left him laid off.
After being dismissed from the bank, Shandra jumped happily when accepted at a hotel in Chicago, USA, to become an employee for six months. Shandra had time to apply when he saw his ads in various Indonesian mass media, such as Kompas and Pos Kota.
Shandra asked to pay Rp. 30 million to an agent in Tebet area, South Jakarta, for administrative matters. I am very happy because Rp. 30 million is not too expensive if it includes tickets, he said to Koran Pos Kota.
Mugged with a gun
But as soon as Shandra arrived in New York, the agent who picked her up reasoned that it was too late to go straight to Chicago. They were staying in New York.
In the end, Shandra was taken to a brothel, and transferred from pimp to pimp. He was once forced to work in Manhattan, Queens, Chinatown, Brooklyn, to Foxwoods, a famous casino in New York City. They took my passport, pointed a gun to my head. I just think how to save lives.
Shandra, who was 25 years old, had a daughter who was entrusted to her in Indonesia.
Of all the girls held by the syndicate, Shandra was the most senior. The youngest is still 10 years old. I never know the origin of what country, because the language is completely foreign, he said regretfully.
Jump from the second floor
Unable to withstand the captivity, Shandra and another trafficking victim whom he invited also escaped by jumping from the bathroom window at a hotel where they were held captive. They survived even though the window was on the second floor.
Shandra immediately dialed the number given by an Indonesian woman she knew. Unexpectedly, the number turned out to belong to a pimp of a different syndicate. This phero was ironically Indonesian citizenship.Shandra was forced to find a way to escape the second time. I went to the police but they did not want to help. I went to the Consulate, but they did not help either. I say my passport is being held by bad people and so on, but they do not believe it. I am considered a prostitute who came here indeed to make money by prostituting themselves. So it's hard to convince anyone.
I really have no place to live or money to live on. Finally I was forced to live on a subway (a subway that often became a homeless house because it was warm, bright, and open to the public until night) and in the city parks until the FBI finally intervened.
Thanks to Shandra's cooperation, the FBI has captured three heads of human trafficking syndicate in New York, one of whom is an Indonesian citizen.
The Most Important of the moment
I feel the most important thing right now is not to discuss what has happened to me, but to look at the future and make good through education, prevention and overcoming the problems of trafficking victims, Shandra said in an interview with VOA.
Shandra now lives in New York with her two daughters, surviving on her small catering business. He joined the Safe Horizon anti-violence organization, and is actively lobbying the United States House to tighten the anti-trafficking laws of the country in Uncle Sam's country.
Shandra also did not forget to launch the Facebook page Stop Human Trafficking in Indonesia as part of his campaign in his native country. You can see Shandra's daily struggle through Shandra Woworuntu's Facebook page.