Gone with a bang: Lights out in Jakarta’s largest red-light district

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KalijodoBulldozers on February 29 penetrated into North Jakarta’s notorious red-light district of Kalijodo and started banging on the first dozens of buildings with the ultimate goal of getting the Indonesian capital’s largest hotbed of sin horizontal, another climax in the nationwide effort to let the prostitution business in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation go limp.

Under high security provided by thousands of officers from Jakarta Police and Indonesian National Armed Forces military personnel, the bulldozers were seen destroying dozens of homes, drinking holes and brothels in the neighbourhood, which the governor now wants to turn it into a park.

Kalijodo was probably the oldest red-light district in Indonesia and has been around since the 18th century when the Dutch were the dominating power in the country.

Some 3,000 residents had to leave the area, whereby those with Jakarta identity cards, around 200 people, could relocate to low-cost apartments, but the majority of the rest, including small business owners, families and hundreds of prostitutes formerly plying their trade in Kalijodo, were told to return to their home villages or asked to find alternative jobs, otherwise they would be forcefully “repatriated.”

However, officials said that the city is taking a “persuasive approach” to convince the residents to leave. Some of the evicted sex workers were offered vocational training for jobs such as cooking or hairdressing and the like, as well as micro loans to fund small businesses. Many prostitutes hail from impoverished rural areas of East Java and have little to no education or the kind they were getting in Islamic boarding schools.

Prostitution is illegal in Indonesia but rampant in most major cities. The Indonesian government already shut down nearly 70 red-light districts across the country and aims at closing the remaining around 100 more by 2019.

One of Southeast Asia’s biggest and most debaucherous sex playgrounds, “Gang Dolly” in the country’s second-largest city of Surabaya, was forcefully closed in 2014 after 44 years of operation and 1,500 sex workers were evicted. The district now resembles a ghost town with little employment opportunities left for the remaining residents, and sex trade shifted online or went underground.

Those prostitutes who could afford the plane ticket or had a caring pimp went to Bali where there is a still fully functional red-light district in the capital Kuta and plenty of karaoke bars, massage parlours and spas all over the tourist island which are just thinly disguised brothels. It is also expected that a number of Kalijodo hookers will relocate to Bali.

Another Indonesian region rife with prostitution is East Kalimantan. There are around 4,000 sex workers spread across 31 red-light districts in the province, according to data from the social affair ministry. All of them are slated to be closed down in the next anti-vice drive by the government.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Bulldozers on February 29 penetrated into North Jakarta’s notorious red-light district of Kalijodo and started banging on the first dozens of buildings with the ultimate goal of getting the Indonesian capital’s largest hotbed of sin horizontal, another climax in the nationwide effort to let the prostitution business in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation go limp.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

KalijodoBulldozers on February 29 penetrated into North Jakarta’s notorious red-light district of Kalijodo and started banging on the first dozens of buildings with the ultimate goal of getting the Indonesian capital’s largest hotbed of sin horizontal, another climax in the nationwide effort to let the prostitution business in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation go limp.

Under high security provided by thousands of officers from Jakarta Police and Indonesian National Armed Forces military personnel, the bulldozers were seen destroying dozens of homes, drinking holes and brothels in the neighbourhood, which the governor now wants to turn it into a park.

Kalijodo was probably the oldest red-light district in Indonesia and has been around since the 18th century when the Dutch were the dominating power in the country.

Some 3,000 residents had to leave the area, whereby those with Jakarta identity cards, around 200 people, could relocate to low-cost apartments, but the majority of the rest, including small business owners, families and hundreds of prostitutes formerly plying their trade in Kalijodo, were told to return to their home villages or asked to find alternative jobs, otherwise they would be forcefully “repatriated.”

However, officials said that the city is taking a “persuasive approach” to convince the residents to leave. Some of the evicted sex workers were offered vocational training for jobs such as cooking or hairdressing and the like, as well as micro loans to fund small businesses. Many prostitutes hail from impoverished rural areas of East Java and have little to no education or the kind they were getting in Islamic boarding schools.

Prostitution is illegal in Indonesia but rampant in most major cities. The Indonesian government already shut down nearly 70 red-light districts across the country and aims at closing the remaining around 100 more by 2019.

One of Southeast Asia’s biggest and most debaucherous sex playgrounds, “Gang Dolly” in the country’s second-largest city of Surabaya, was forcefully closed in 2014 after 44 years of operation and 1,500 sex workers were evicted. The district now resembles a ghost town with little employment opportunities left for the remaining residents, and sex trade shifted online or went underground.

Those prostitutes who could afford the plane ticket or had a caring pimp went to Bali where there is a still fully functional red-light district in the capital Kuta and plenty of karaoke bars, massage parlours and spas all over the tourist island which are just thinly disguised brothels. It is also expected that a number of Kalijodo hookers will relocate to Bali.

Another Indonesian region rife with prostitution is East Kalimantan. There are around 4,000 sex workers spread across 31 red-light districts in the province, according to data from the social affair ministry. All of them are slated to be closed down in the next anti-vice drive by the government.

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