- In Features
- Post 12 February 2017
- By Maryati/Setiorini
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Hediana Utarti, an anti-trafficking activists, is known for her commitment and efforts to help victims of human trafficking in San Francisco, the United States, for more than 17 years. The Indonesian woman who is domiciled in the United States received an antitrafficking award called, “2017 Modern Day Abolitionist Award for Direct Services to Survivors of Human Trafficking” for her efforts in helping the victims of human trafficking in the United States.
Hediana Utarti is the first Indonesian to earn such award from the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking organization. This award is given to individuals who actively fight against slavery in the modern era and is committed to building local and global community that values human life. For approximately 17 years, the doctorate graduate in politics from the University of Hawaii at Manoa has been working with nonprofits Asian Women's Shelter. In the everyday world, she assists victims of domestic violence and rape with limited English. Not only from Indonesia, she also helped the victims coming from various countries. Most of the victims are newly arrived immigrants. At present, the organization where Hediana works has 19 employees and about 50 translators.
In the last 10 years, Hediana Utarti has been serving as Community Projects Coordinator who handles programs and services in anti-trafficking field. The main focus of the organization is to provide language access. When she first joined the organization in 1988, they only provided service in two languages, amely Chinese and Laotian. In 2017, there are 40 language services, including Indonesian, Hindi, Mongolian, Arabic, Spanish, and Russian. Herdiana Utarti helps Indonesian workers who are victims of labor exploitation or trafficking. Victims can call and ask for help in secret, without telling about their background. During her work at the Asian Women's Shelter, Hediana saw many Indonesian women who fled domestic violence and asked for help. They were deceived by the lure of working in hotels
Along with several other Indonesian citizens, Hediana also formed an organization called Indonesian Community Outreach Committee which is specifically help victims of human trafficking coming from Indonesia. Its members consist of a pastor and leader of the Islamic study group in San Francisco. Assistance provided by the Indonesian Community Outreach Committee is not only finding a shelter for the victims, but also includes assistance in the field of health and others. As undertaken by Hediana while helping two fihsermen from Indonesia who worked in Hawaii and San Francisco waters.
Hediana Utarti also assisted the victims in communication, since they can not speak English. Not only that, she also helpd them to see a doctor and get a haircut. Hediana helped them to find a lawyer who then reported the case to the FBI. If there was no lawyer who helped, Hediana said these victims could be deported. If it is proven that they are the true victims, the government and social agencies in the US could provide assistance for eight months, as well as financial assistance amounting to 400-500 dollars for meals, and health insurance assistance. By having a lawyer, the victim can apply for obtaining a residence permit T visa specifically intended for victims of human trafficking, which is valid for four years. After four years, they can apply to obtain a Green Card or become permanent residents of the US. They are also allowed to return to their respective countries. Herdiana Utarti advised the Indonesian people who want to work abroad to look for any Indonesian organizations in the destination country and do not let them be isolated. (sekar)