Despite a conservative reputation and the fact that it is home to the largest Muslim population in the world, Indonesia has a large adult oriented entertainment industry. This commercial scene has been described in various sources ranging from Rockit Reports to best selling books like Jakarta Undercover.
Several of the largest and most prominent sex clubs in Jakarta were reviewed on this website back in 2014 and 2015. I haven’t reported on Jakarta since that time but certainly not because I ran out of venues to write about! Dozens of places in Jakarta have not yet been covered here not to mention all of the places where sex is sold in Indonesia including Bali and Bintan.
One of the places in Jakarta I have reviewed is the Alexis Hotel. The Alexis Hotel is home to a nightclub and a sauna with seedy reputations. The hotel is locally known as “dreamland for men”.
Well the dream may become a nightmare for the owners of the hotel as well as the staff and frequent customers as the Alexis Hotel was just effectively shut down by the new governor who denied the business the necessary permits to continue operating.
Anies Baswedon became governor of Jakarta in October after defeating his predecessor Ahok. Ahok ended up in prison after the elections in April on charges of blasphemy. Anies won in part thanks to the support of several religious groups including the Islamic Defenders Front. That set the scene for what is going on today.
The attack on the Alexis Hotel shouldn’t real come as a big surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. After all one of Anies’s campaign promises was to shut down the infamous Alexis Hotel, which he claimed his predecessor refused to do.
Those with a special interest in the commercial sex scene in Indonesia will recall that Ahok did in fact attack sex work in Jakarta when he closed the large Kailojodo red light district in the city in 2016. In the run up to the elections Anies pointed to that action when he claimed Ahok was only interested in cracking down on poor prostitutes while letting large upscale sex centers operate with impunity.
I am not a legal expert, especially when it comes to Indonesia. I can only report on what I see. With Anies in control and on the offensive it certainly appears as if Alexis will be shuttered and soon. Apparently the Jakarta Entertainment Business Association is attempting to fight back by demanding evidence that the Alexis Hotel is in fact a front for prostitution which is of course illegal in Indonesia. So far the governor has not made any evidence public though he does claim to have more than enough to shut the place down. Among other things the governor reports that there are 104 foreign women working at Alexis including some from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, China and Thailand.
If the Alexis Hotel is shut down as it appears will happen then it is quite likely that some of the other large venues reportedly selling sex will also be hit under the new regime. Anies has already stated that he is currently investigating other venues.
Groups like the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) are not only backing Anies but pushing him to move further. The group’s vice president is calling for more.
“MUI hopes that this policy will not only apply to Alexis Hotel, but all other hotels and entertainment venues offering prostitution and human trafficking businesses that should also be closed.”
Anies may not be able to rid the capital city of prostitution as he has promised but he may very well close some of the biggest and most obvious targets. With the closure of the large venues and street level red light districts the sale of sex would then most likely move further onto the internet and into the underground.