Prostitution veiled as contract weddings in the hilly resort town of Puncak has long been an open secret in the area, and a recent police bust shows that the practice is alive and well.
The National Police recently arrested five alleged pimps in a prostitution ring dubbed “halal sex tourism” by the local media. According to the police, the five suspects facilitated sexual transactions between tourists — mostly Middle Eastern men — and sex workers in Puncak.
More often than not, to avoid the sins of extramarital sex in Islam, the clients enter into a contract marriage with the sex workers for several days.
“They live together after marriage, and when they’re done, [the tourists] return to their own countries,” Ferdy Sambo, who heads the National Police’s General Crimes Investigation Unit, told reporters on Friday, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.
Ferdy added that the tourists paid up to IDR10 million (US$730) for a seven-day contract marriage agreement, 40 percent of which went to the alleged pimps.
The suspects face up to 15 years in prison each for human trafficking.
Parts of Puncak are dominated by Middle Eastern tourists, with halal sex tourism being one of the main draws for men from the region according to reports on the subject that date back decades.
In 2006, then-Vice President Jusuf Kalla infamously encouraged the practice, saying that, “children left behind will have good genes [from their Arab fathers] and they can become soap opera stars.” In reality, however, there have been serious concerns about the welfare of the sex workers, particularly if they were forced to raise children resulting from their contract marriages on their own.