Looking to Jakarta’s Red Light District to Prevent HIV

red light district jakarta


In Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, unprotected sex is reportedly the way most HIV cases are transmitted. Staggering figures are drawing attention to Jakarta’s red light district where nearly 300 prostitutes work. NGOs are working with the government to bring awareness to this concern, and while sex education in school is forbidden, they are seeking out different ways to educate the public.


JAKARTA “” Diane Sukagoni’s shift begins at 9 p.m. Every evening the 24-year-old woman sits in her room in one of the cafés in northern Jakarta and waits for customers. Today she’ll provide sexual services to between three and five men, until about 4 a.m. Sukagoni is one of 20,000 prostitutes in Indonesia’s capital city. She remembers well the day she left her village in the West Java province to come here, how overwhelmed she was by this city of millions and how ashamed because she’d come to sell her body.

That was four years ago. But the Muslim woman says that if faced with the decision today, she would instead stay home with her two children and parents. At the time, it seemed like a good option, a way to make money quickly after her husband left her. And she was right about that much: She earns enough to support herself in Jakarta and send money home.

Sukagoni works a part of town called Rawa Bebek, located between the highway to the airport and the fast-train line. Buildings crowd each other here along a jumble of tiny unlit lanes so narrow that it’s difficult for two adults to pass each other. It smells bad here, and it’s noticeably more humid than other parts of Jakarta because the shabby buildings are so close together. Three thousand people live in the area, and 300 prostitutes work here, the youngest of whom is 16 years old…Continue Reading

Niki De Witt headshot 150x150 Paris, China: Inside the Countrys Counterfeit City ABOUT THE CURATOR

Niki is currently exploring Asia while working on a children’s book series about travel. As a child, she traveled and moved often for her parents’ jobs. As a result of this, she has always felt most at home when she’s off and away. She is interested in international films, working on building an impressive tea collection, and can often be found with her camera in hand. You can have a look-see at her blog and follow her on Twitter @nikidding.

Photo by skpy