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Indonesia: Biggest Red-Light District Demolished

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Indonesia hit headlines as its largest red-light district was demolished in line with the nationwide drive to eliminate prostitution in the country, Monday.  Jakarta’s Kalijodo, the long time dwelling of sex workers, is the latest to close down in almost 70 red-light districts.  While prostitution is illegal, it is also rampant in most cities of Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country.

West Jakarta Mayor Anas Effendi spoke to reporters, saying that they have to demolish the houses and turn the place into a green open space since it has been the main objective of the said area from the start. As soon as it is completed, the area will be rebuilt right away.

However, the National Commission on Human Rights criticised the military’s involvement in the demolition, suspecting that their presence was to show force to the residents who will resist the eviction. While it was previously claimed that the demolition was to keep the place in order, it appears that the city officials will be needing a dialogue in pursuing this plan.

Furthermore, the Commission insisted that if the city officials were after reform, there should have been no military involvement in the demolition, specifically the one in Kalijodo. According to the Commission, there was an agreement with the city administrators 18 years ago about the non-involvement of military personnel in these particular undertakings.

Meantime, Deputy Speaker Mohamad Taufic of Jakarta Legislative Council demanded the city officials to release information regarding the number of families in Kalijodo who were still holding out in their residences on Monday, The Jakarta Post reported.

The move of Indonesia to shut down the neighbourhood was prompted by an accident earlier this month involving a drunk motorist who killed four people in Kalijdo. The 3,000 residents of Kalijdo were given a week by the officials to clear the place. Vocational training was also offered to the sex workers who were evicted. However, some who relocated complained about the difficulty of finding jobs, Reuters reported.

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