Todays Jakarta Post
Plain-Jane camouflage keeps prostitutes on street, despite crackdown
Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post
Referred to as the world's oldest profession, some argue that prostitution will only stop when sex does.
The Tangerang municipal council strongly disagrees. It endorsed a bylaw on prostitution three months ago to shut down the sex industry.
For a time, streets like Jl. Otista, Jl. Gatot Subroto and Jl. Merdeka, which are habitually frequented by sex workers, were much quieter.
Predictably, the women returned, but they have become ghosts of their former selves.
On Wednesday evening, The Jakarta Post
observed most of the sex workers had abandoned their skintight jeans, strapless tops and bright slashes of eye shadow. The idea is to pass unnoticed by public order officers.
'Surya', 25, and many other women were rounded up last month by pubic order officers for soliciting and fined Rp 500,000 (about US$53).
When the Post stopped to talk to her on Jl. Merdeka, Surya said the women working the street were aware there was a bylaw but had not seen a copy of it.
Like most sex workers, Suryanti is in it for the money. She knows the nightly patrols by public order officers will not stop.
"No law will stop me from doing what I do. So long as I have money, I can always pay the fine. My fate rests in God's hands,
"I can only earn money like this, what other options are open to me?" she said.
Following her arrest, the quick-witted Suryanti abruptly modified her look. Now she wears long, thick dresses and a smear of lipstick.
"I work in places where I can get out fast if I see a patrol car," she said.
The sex workers on Jl. Otista are also trying another tack. They use the fruit sellers scattered along the street as a cover.
"If officers come and the girls see no way out, they'll claim to be the wives of the fruit sellers," said Marwani, a motorcycle taxi driver who operates in the area.
Novi Ariyanti, a 23-year-old sex worker, who usually waits for clients at a bus shelter on Jl. Gatot Subroto in Cimone, has made a more drastic change to her appearance.
She now wears Muslim dress -- covering her neck, ears, hair, chest and body shape -- and a headscarf.
"With my new look, I am earning more money because men these days are more interested in women wearing jilbab (headscarves)," she said.
Novi charges clients between Rp 200,000 and Rp 500,000.
"C'mon honey, for you it's just Rp 150,000, and we'll go to hotel Anggrek, at Rp 75,000 a night it's cheaper than Hotel Merdeka," she said in a final effort to persuade the Post
Raise a new law and someone will find a way around it!