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Mayoral feud feared following brothel closure in East Java

Publication Date : 08-05-2014


Tension between East Java’s Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini and her deputy Wisnu Sakti Buana could reappear as the latter is strongly against Risma’s plan to completely shut down the notorious Dolly red-light district.

“Many people [living around Dolly] count on Dolly to earn a living,” Wisnu said on Wednesday.

He said the municipal administration had only communicated with the pimps and prostitutes and forgot to include locals in the discussion about the planned closure. Wisnu also said the mayor had not involved him in the plan.

Wisnu said he had received complaints from people who had earned a living running businesses around Dolly for many years.

The closure of 300 brothels in Dolly, he said, would likely be followed by the closure of business outlets, including laundries and sundry stores.

“This means the closure of Dolly will become a serious problem in the community,” he added.

The city administration plans to close down the brothels by June, ahead of this year’s Ramadhan.

Risma said that the closure of the red-light district, one of the biggest in Southeast Asia, was in line with City Bylaw No. 7/1999 on the banning of using a building as a place of prostitution.

She also said the bylaw had gained support from many parties, including the country’s biggest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).

Risma said that following the closure, the municipal administration would change the site into a center for economic activities.

“The closure of Dolly will be effective in breaking the chain of prostitution in Surabaya. Human trafficking involving underaged children can also be controlled,” Risma said.

Earlier, Risma threatened to resign after Wisnu was appointed her deputy, arguing that his appointment was illegal as the signature on a letter sent to the Home Ministry by the Surabaya City Council had been forged.

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri stepped in to solve the problems between Risma and Wisnu, who are both PDI-P politicians.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the council’s Golkar Party faction, Blegur Prijanggono, objected to the plan, saying that the closure could lead to the establishment of illegal entertainment spots that would lead to the uncontrollable spread of HIV/AIDS. “Don’t just close it down without considering the impacts,” Blegur said.

Separately, Surabaya Social Affairs Agency head Supomo said that before closing down the redlight district, the city administration had provided entrepreneurship training and job opportunities to pimps, prostitutes and members of the local community so that they could start new lives.

“Each prostitute and pimp will receive 5 million rupiah (US$431) as compensation,” Supomo said.

Social affairs agency data show that Dolly is currently home to 1,020 commercial sex workers and 311 pimps. Some 400 locals also earn a living running various businesses in the area.


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