NGO looks to combat sex trafficking through ‘Protector’ app

The ‘Be My Protector’ app has received more than 300 reports of alleged human smuggling and sexual exploitation in the last nine months. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: In just nine months, a locally developed app to combat human and sex trafficking has received over 300 reports regarding cases of sexual exploitation, forced labour and people being smuggled out of the country for the sex trade.

Change Your World co-founder Kelvin Lim.

Kelvin Lim, co-founder of Change Your World, said the NGO had managed to stop several Malaysian children and migrants from being trafficked for sex through the app which is called “Be My Protector”.

The rescued children included a boy and a girl, both aged 15.

“The girl was active on social media and was looking for a sugar daddy,” Lim said. “Eventually, she was lured into prostitution by sex traffickers.

“The boy, meanwhile, was almost shipped out of the country for sex with other men when his case was exposed.”

He added however that many of the victims could not be traced due to delays in investigation or lack of evidence.

The “Be My Protector” app, which took two years to develop, is available in eight languages in Southeast Asia.

It allows victims or individuals who have identified potential victims to submit pictures and describe the nature and severity of the situation. These reports can be made anonymously.

The complaints are investigated by Tenaganita, Change Your World’s partner in the project. Tenaganita also forwards complaints to the police and other relevant authorities when necessary.

Lim told FMT that sex traffickers are believed to be bringing in children from Vietnam, China and the Philippines.

The children, who are mostly about 15 years old, come from poor families. They are promised jobs as foot masseurs but after entering the country, they are raped and sent to brothels for prostitution.

Lim said Change Your World had received reports of such cases but that it was difficult to trace the children unless someone comes forward with evidence.

“Prostitution involves boys as well as girls,” he added. “They are duped and promised good jobs but often end up as sex workers.”

Lim claimed that prior to the May 9 polls, civil servants had been in cahoots with smugglers from Malaysia and countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal, to issue work visas even though there were no job offers. Each worker was charged RM10,000 to work in Malaysia, he said.

“These workers are from poor families who sell their belongings back home and come here to earn money.

“But when they arrive, there are no jobs and they are saddled with a debt of RM10,000,” he said.

To raise money, they work illegally. Sometimes, they are not paid their salaries.

“We have received complaints of forced labour where workers were not paid for more than six months and lived in horrible conditions,” Lim said.

Another major problem is children being forced to beg, he added.

“There are syndicates who force the children to beg and then take whatever people give them.

“Through our app, we can do our part to ‘save’ these children.

“Today, someone sends a picture of a child begging. Tomorrow, someone else may send another picture. Eventually, we may get a picture of the child entering a residential area. We can then alert the authorities and rescue the child,” he said.