Even though prostitution is illegal in Indonesia, there are many “localized” (“lokalisasi” in Indonesian) sites, akin to red light districts, where authorities turn a blind eye to the blatant sex trade going on in the area, with Surabaya’s infamous Dolly and Jakarta’s Kalijodo district (both now closed) being prime examples.
According to Social Minister Idrus Marham, the government has been shuttering localized prostitution sites throughout the country, having closed 122 out of 136 locations since 2014 and returning some 20,000 sex workers to their families.
But Idrus says the job is not yet done, as the ministry is adamant that getting rid of all of the remaining lokalisasi sites is a government priority for the near future.
“The Social Ministry will continue its crackdown program of localized sites. The target is, by 2019, Indonesia will be free of localized prostitution,” Idrus said yesterday, as quoted by MetroTV.
It’s important to note that the ministry isn’t trying to abolish prostitution as a whole (good luck to anyone trying to accomplish that). But shutting down localized sites can have numerous adverse effects on sex workers, such as the loss of personal and medical security and being driven into the even more dangerous underground sex trade.
Idrus went on to say that the government will ensure that former sex workers be looked after, taking a cue out of Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini’s closure of Dolly — once Southeast Asia’s largest red light district.
“Bu Risma provided facilities and training for former sex workers so they could be independent. She transformed localized sites and brothels into craft factories, leading to a source of income [for the former sex workers]. This is so they can regain their dignity,” he said.