Indonesian influencer auctions virginity for COVID-19 aid, later apologizes for ‘satirical’ stunt

Sarah Salsabila. Photo: Instagram/@sarahkiehl
Sarah Salsabila. Photo: Instagram/@sarahkiehl

An Indonesian influencer has sparked a huge controversy in the country for claiming she was selling her virginity to raise funds for the battle against COVID-19, only to later clarify that the offer was made ironically. 

Sarah Salsabila, also known as Sarah Keihl, shocked the public when she uploaded a video saying that she was willing to auction off her virginity starting at IDR2 billion (US$135,800), all proceeds from which she said would go toward helping COVID-19 frontliners and those who have been economically affected by the pandemic.

Amid the inevitable outrage and backlash, Sarah then clarified that she wasn’t actually offering her virginity for sale. The influencer said the stunt was an ironic jab at people who don’t take COVID-19 seriously. 

“I’m sorry for creating the controversy. In truth, the virginity auction was my idea of satire of those who aren’t sensitive to the situation,” she wrote in a post this morning. 

Nevertheless, Sarah said she realized the severity of her stunt, claiming that she and her family have been receiving scorn and abuse over it.

“I will donate 1,000 groceries aids paid using my own money. That money is halal, I have never sold myself or my dignity,” she said. 

Despite her apology and clarification, an Instagram DM conversation between Sarah and someone who appears to be her friend has gone viral. In it, the influencer confided that the stunt was staged by her and her manager to boost her engagement, and that she had planned an apology in advance.

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