For 1500 years, from the time of the kings of Java until now, Indramayu is the high place and the main supplier of young prostitutes for Indonesia as well as for several countries of Southeast Asia and the Middle East.Region forgotten by the central government of the archipelago, the district of Indramayu continues to sacrifice its young girls to meet a global demand that does not seem to run out of steam.
The village of Bongas, Indramayu district, has running water and electricity since 1997 only. Even in 2018, many village houses do not have this luxury
Extreme poverty, poor education and 1,500 years of conditioning are the sources of the problem of sexual trafficking of young minors. Mostly agricultural, only 7% of farmers own their land, condemning 93% of other farmers to extreme poverty.
As noted by Okem, a farm worker in the area “I earn about $ 50 a month as a laborer while if my daughter is a prostitute, our income increases to $ 1,000 a month”.
Her name is Anis and she is one of the many faces of prostitution. Having often started prostitution at age 12, young women often end up becoming HIV positive. When I was a prostitute, there was no screening test, Anis tells us. She has unfortunately transmitted the AIDS virus to her husband and daughter.
In the district of Indramayu, parents say they mostly want to have girls rather than boys, who are much more profitable through prostitution than boys who can best hope for underpaid agricultural work. Unless the situation changes, the majority of the girls in this photo will be forced into the path of prostitution.
Brothels abound in the district of Indramayu. In this photo, we can see young sex workers waiting for the photojournalist and her assistant for the interview. Well known by truckers, these little cabins swarm along the highways where they stop to rest, eat a little … and you guess the rest.
The phenomenon of prostitution is such a commonplace that it took only a few beers to obtain permission from the pimp to interview young women. By the way, the men in the picture are not customers. Here in Bongas, it is not a problem to work in a brothel, says Ami (first right on the photo) when we mentioned to her our surprise for their prompt availability for the interview. 25 days a month, young women receive between 4 and 6 clients per night. They keep between 70 and 80% of earnings for a salary of about $ 1000 a month for the youngest, a real fortune in Indonesia. Surprisingly, pimps are all, without exception, women in Indonesia.
Prostitution is practiced without physical violence because society, family and culture firmly lock up young women in this oldest form of oppression. As in many Asian countries, the sense of duty to the family weighs heavily on the backs of children. In the photo, Devi receives the photojournalist despite a miscarriage at 7 months of pregnancy the week before. I am the sole provider of the family, she says.
Despite my miscarriage, I have to go back to work as soon as possible. For the victims of prostitution, young and old, the only hope for getting out is often marriage with a client. That’s why, despite the horror of the situation, these young sex workers receive the journalists with their best smile! For many of them, however, Prince Charming will never come. For the majority of young women caught up in prostitution, the future is looking very dark . In one way or another, they find themselves dependent on men for their survival, either through prostitution or marriage.
Photojournalist and CEO of Talitha Koumi