KOTA KINABALU: Police and Indonesian consul staff have rescued 13 Indonesian women allegedly forced into prostitution in the interior Keningau district a week after two of them escaped from a hotel.
The girls, aged between 17 and 24, were sent back to Indonesia via Tawau yesterday and Keningau police are reportedly questioning a 36-year-old man and three of his assistants who kept the girls.
The officer in charge of the Tawau Indonesian consul's office Makdun Tahir told reporters the girls were rescued after two of them escaped from their pimp in a Keningau hotel and fled to Kota Kinabalu to seek the assistance of the Indonesian consulate on Jan 24.
“The girls had sought protection and informed our staff there were other girls who needed to be rescued,” he said, adding that they sought the assistance of the Keningau police and dispatched a consul employee to check.
However, when police raided the hotel around 10am on Jan 25, it was empty, Makdun said, adding that one of the girls had told them they were in a forest area when contacted over the cellular phone.
On Jan 26, another girl at the hotel made contact with the consulate over the phone.
“But her pimp overheard her conversation and locked her up. She, however, jumped off the second floor of the hotel, spraining her ankle.
“She managed to get assistance of one of the pimp’s workers to take her to the consulate office here,” Makdun said, adding that by Jan 29 police raided the hotel and rescued the remaining eight girls.
In thanking police for their assistance, Makdun urged them to hand over such rescued women to the consulate’s custody so it could ensure the girls were returned safely to their home towns.
“If they go back through the normal deportation process, we fear that middlemen might be able to intercept them the moment they return to Indonesia. They could be brought back immediately,” he added.
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