Swinger group raided by police in E. Java, leader charged with same law usually used against pimps

Illustration. Photo: Pixabay
Illustration. Photo: Pixabay

The East Java Provincial Police arrested three married couples for alleged swinging in the city of Malang yesterday in yet another case of consensual sex in a private setting being criminalized by authorities in Indonesia due to being deemed morally deviant.

The couples were part of a closed Facebook group for swingers called Sparkling, which reportedly consists of 28 couples. Three of the couples booked a hotel in Malang before they were arrested by the police, who were tipped off about their activity by locals.

One of those arrested is a 53-year-old man, identified by his initials THD, who is believed to be the founder of the group. The police have charged him with violation of Article 296 of the KUHP (Criminal Code), which is commonly used against sexual trafficking facilitators and is punishable by up to 1 year and 4 months’ imprisonment.

Article 296 criminalizes those who deliberately facilitate or ease obscene acts (what qualifies as “obscene” in this statue is open to interpretation), hence why it’s often used against pimps. However, the article states that people who receive financial gain from such obscene acts aren’t the only ones guilty of violating it — those who “normalize” obscene behavior by allowing it can also be punished.

The police conceded that there was no financial transaction among the swingers, but are pressing charges against THD based on Article 296 anyway.

“There were no transactions, whatsoever. This [group] is just for fantasy fulfillment,” said Yudhistira Midyahwan, head of the General Crimes Investigation Directorate at the East Java Provincial Police, as quoted by Suara yesterday.

No charges have been announced against the other five people who were arrested at the hotel.

Aside from Article 296, police in Indonesia have used the country’s ambiguously-worded anti-pornography laws to criminalize sexual “deviance” that technically aren’t illegal, such as homosexual sex between consenting adults. In December of last year, 10 men were sentenced to 2 years in prison for taking part in a consensual “gay sex party” in a private sauna in Jakarta.

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