Sumatra red-light district residents: Closures not fair

Sumatra red-light district residents: Closures not fair

After shutting down the popular Surabaya red-light district Gang Dolly in June, authorities have ordered two red-light districts in Sumatra, in western Indonesia, to close by next month.

The decision comes despite strong protest from local residents, but religious leaders have backed the move, the Jakarta Globe reported.

The two districts are in Jambi city, in central Sumatra.

The city's assistant on government affairs, Mr Yan Ismar, said on Monday that the prostitution areas in Payo Sigadung and Langit Biru must be shut down by Oct 13, "as stipulated in the bylaw forbidding prostitution in the city of Jambi".

He said this at a meeting with residents in areas near the red light districts, adding that the decision was "irrevocable".

A regional bylaw on the eradication of prostitution and sexual misconduct was passed by the administration in February, the report said.

In Payo Sigadung, sex workers have reportedly begun leaving the premises.

Mr Sapri, 40, a local cafe owner, said four of 18 sex workers in his establishment had returned home and 14 others would do so before the area shuts down for good.

"It's estimated that more than 14,000 people across Indonesia rely on income earned from red-light districts like Dolly," Ms Anissa, from Indonesia's Independent Youth Community organisation, told the BBC.

Mr Saipul, one of the protesters, claimed the shutdown was not fair, as it focused only on two prostitution areas.

He alleged that more discreet locations, such as entertainment establishments, beauty salons and rented housings, will remain operational.

He asked: "Why is it that only the Payo Sigadung and Langit Biru areas are being shut down, while prostitution in hotels, rented housings and entertainment places don't get the same treatment?

"If the city administration wants to eradicate prostitution, then close every establishment - don't just shut down a few and leave others untouched."


Another protester, 28-year-old Jefri, said they will continue to protest until their demands are met.

Hundreds of local residents are planning to set up tents in front of local administration's offices if their demands are not met, the report said.

Mr Yan said the city council and the city administration had informed the public of the shutdown a long time ago and there was no reason to call it off.

The crackdown on prostitution in Jambi follows a similar move in Surabaya, East Java, where the city administration shut down popular red light district Gang Dolly in June amid protests and criticism.

This article was first published on Sep 24, 2014.
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