Indonesian police investigate possible public pornography incident at bird-singing contest

Screengrab: Lovebird Channel / Youtube

In Indonesia, bird-singing competitions have become a major obsession among many. While such avian competitions may sound quaint, hobbyists here spend huge amounts of money on competitions with enormous cash prizes and songbirds that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Some of the priciest songbirds come from protected species that are illegally trapped for sale to competitors (a major concern for conservationists).

Naturally, such high stakes competition tends to create hot-headed people. At a bird-singing competition in Surabaya on Sunday afternoon, an organizer claims to have tried to cool down the contest’s heated atmosphere with a sexy dance stunt that quickly went viral on social media and has now caught the attention of the police who are investigating it as a possible violation of the country’s controversial pornography law.

Besides the obvious reason for why videos of the sexy dance performance went viral on social media, many commentators expressed outrage specifically at the fact that there were young children in attendance at the competition who witnessed the adult dance display.

The bird-singing contest’s committee chairperson, a 36-year-old man named Darusalam, said that while the young women were SPG (sales promotion girls) who were always at their competitions, the sexy dance performance on Sunday happened “spontaneously.”

Darusalam explained that he asked the two SPG to dance in the middle of a heated judging period.

“It was not in our program, but happened because at that time the contest situation was again heated because the participants were dissatisfied with the jury’s decision,” Darusalam told Detik.

While it may have successfully drawn attention away from the judges’ decision (there were no reports of violence later at the competition), the sexy dance caused shock amongst the spectators, many of whom whipped out their phones to record the performance and complain to the police.

Bubutan Police Chief Dies Ferra Ningtias said her officers were investigating the incident as a possible violation of the country’s pornography law, justifying its application by noting that the bird singing contest was done in public with minors present.

Indonesia’s controversial pornography law makes illegal the production or performance of anything that could considered vulgar or pornographic. Many human rights critics argue the law’s vague wording makes it easy to abuse, and recently the police have been criticized for using it to criminalize gay men having consensual relations with other adults in private. Convictions under the pornography law can be punished with up to 10 years in jail.

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