The closure of the Kalijodo red light district in North and West Jakarta is just one stage in the government’s ambition to close down all 168 such areas across the country by 2019 as part of its efforts to eradicate prostitution.
The government has already close down 68 red-light districts, while another 100 would be closed down within three years, said Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa on Monday, adding that the decision was made at the ministry's national working meeting in January.
Her ministry had coordinated with regional governments in an effort to close down the prostitution facilities, Khofifah said.
"Mojokerto has prepared the closure of the only prostitution location in East Java," Khofifah said, adding that the East Kalimantan governor had also sent a letter to her to inform her of the closure of a red-light district in the province.
In connection with the closure of Kalijodo red-light district, the Social Affairs Ministry has offered former sex workers in the Kalijodo red-light district training to provide them with the various skills they need for better jobs after leaving the district, which is being demolished by the Jakarta city administration.
Those, particularly from outside Jakarta, who take up the offers would be trained at the ministry’s women social working facility (PSKW), said Khofifah during a visit to the center in Pasar Rebo, East Jakarta.
"This place is open for all former prostitutes from outside Jakarta. We will register them after they arrive here," Khofifah said, adding that the ministry was not involved in sending them to the facility as that was the job of the Jakarta city administration.
"We continue to coordinate with the Jakarta city administration regarding the closure of Kalijodo," said Kofifafah.
The demolition of the Kalijodo red-light district has become a hot topic in the media in recent weeks, following a fatal car crash in which the driver had been returning from the district. Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, supported by the police and the military, plans to demolish all buildings occupying state land and turn it into a green area.
Data from Pejagalan subdistrict show that about 500 prostitutes, mostly from West Java, worked in the red-light district.
However, so far no former prostitute has come to the PSKW to seek assistance at the ministry’s facility, which currently only accommodates 25 former sex workers, who were arrested by Public Order Agency officers, although the center can accommodate some 120 people.
The PSKW only takes care of prostitutes from outside Jakarta, while those from Jakarta will be accommodated by a social institution owned by the Jakarta city administration.
The former prostitutes in the center receive training according to their interests and talents, health care, consultations by psychologists and religious services for six months before they are sent to their respective hometowns or other places.