Jakarta's Kalijodo is the latest of nearly 70 red light districts to be shut down in Indonesia, with the government still wanting to close the remaining, which is estimated at about 100, by 2019. Kalijodo red-light district has long been home to thousands of sex workers, despite prostitution being illegal in the country. Yet despite the law, it is still rampant in most major cities.
Bulldozers were seen destroying dozens of homes and sex-orientated businesses in the Jakarta neighbourhood, which the Indonesian government wants to turn into a park. The decision to demolish the area was finalised by Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, after there was an accident caused by a drunk motorist, which killed four people in Kalijodo earlier this year. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama ordered the neighbourhood to be closed, starting with the Intan Cafe, which was, according to reports, owned by prominent local figure Abdul Azis aka Daeng Azis, who allegedly controlled most of the operations in Kalijodo.
"If the main reason of the government is to clear prostitution, then I think this is the right thing to do. Prostitution violates religious values and it also disrupts other people around it," said Slamet Basuki, a resident of Jakarta.
Former sex workers who relied on Kalijodo to earn a living, have been asked to join a rehabilitation and vocational centre, where they learn trades which will help them get a job.
The city administration had given some 3,000 local residents seven days to pack up their things before the buildings are torn down, although there are six families having insisted on staying in the area. Some have been relocated to new apartments, but remain perplexed as to how they will move forward.