Saritem, Bandung

Sep 14th, 2006, in Society, by

The red-light district of Saritem, in Bandung, may be about to be closed.

Bandung’s oldest red-light district, Saritem, could soon be shut down because the city administration is preparing to crack down on prostitution. The administration says it will begin implementing a 2005 local bylaw on order, cleanliness and beauty in November of this year. The ordinance contains an article on prostitution which says that anyone who provides sexual services for money is subject to fines of up to 50 million rupiah. Anyone using the services of prostitutes can face a fine of up to 5 million.

Public order officers have begun passing out leaflets to inform residents of the red light district about the ordinance and the penalties they could face for violating it. Kebon Jeruk district head Yayan Ahadiat said:

We’ve conducted regular programs to let people know about the ordinance. On Wednesday we called all the pimps and 64 of them showed up to learn about the closure plan and the fines to be imposed by the city administration.

He said the information was expected to be passed on to the prostitutes by the pimps. There are about 450 prostitutes and 73 brothel owners or pimps operating from two neighborhood units in Saritem.

Many prostitutes are naturally reported to be concerned for their futures and want the city administration to help them find alternative work if the red-light district is closed. “Dina”, a four-year veteran of the area, said

Go ahead and close Saritem. They have been planning it for a long time. But we have not been offered any alternatives, so how can we earn money to eat?

The red-light district has been in the city since colonial times and is a similar place to Dolly in Surabaya.

Authorities first began talking about shutting down Saritem in 1998, as part of a morality campaign. Billions of rupiah were reportedly spent by the city administration to build the Darut Taubah Islamic boarding school in the middle of the red-light district in 2000. The school was located in the area to improve Saritem’s image, as well as to promote religious teachings among the prostitutes. However six years later the presence of the school appears to have caused little change in the area.

The head of Bandung’s Islamic Boarding School Communication Forum, Imam Sonhaji, who came up with the bright idea of building the Islamic boarding school in Saritem, said the main problem with getting women out of prostitution was finding them alternative careers.

There are training programs to provide them with new skills but they have no capital. The administration should come up with a solution to help them get out of prostitution.

In addition to those directly employed in prostitution, about a thousand other Saritem residents earn a living from the red-light district, including from running food stalls and massage parlours.

September 27th. The authorities have begun metrotv closing down brothels in Saritem. Seven buildings, out of a total of eighty in the area, were “sealed” today.

April 17th 2007. Saritem has now been fully closed down. It is said that out of 400 prostitutes who normally work in the area only a handful remain. Those who do remain were said to be giving discounts of 50,000 rupiah to customers, to commemorate the last day of operation of the red light district, which was Sunday 15th April. Most of the houses used for brothels in the area have “for sale” signs on them. detik

Protest signs at Saritem.

14 Comments on “Saritem, Bandung”

  1. Munafikbangetloepade says:

    Talking about cleanliness… those 4R53h0L35 (people in the government of Bandung) must take care of the annoying garbage problem first. Such a hypocrite.

  2. Molisan Tono says:

    I believe you are bandung young fella. good point mate. government should pay more attention to garbage. it’s been couple years I never go to bandung. different now huh?

  3. Hassan says:

    hehe, I see some Saritem regulars here complaining about the closing of their favourite weekend getaway 😀

    Chill dudes, just a joke. besides, I’ve been to Bandung some time ago, and I saw that the garbage problem had been ‘mostly’ taken care off.

    After the garbage problem was almost sorted out, I see the government there is moving on to clean other ‘garbage’ problems.

    I hope I didn’t offend any regular Saritem patrons”¦

  4. Rudy Hendra says:

    Gee, man…
    They are always talked about it.
    This issue is not a new issue.
    They have tried to close it down around 1996-1997.
    In 1997, they are everywhere in the media, people thinks that it had been closed.
    But several weeks later, I asked to my friend that are often go there,”How is Saritem? Closed? You cannot go there anymore? ”

    “No. Open as usual.”

  5. Suicy says:

    Bandung is a flower city. It’s nice and everything. It’s true the government aren’t doing much as I can say. They have more problems than closing the saritem. Look at the Lapindo! People not having home to stay, no money, no job. Where are these people gonna find a way for a living? If the government continues to be doing this how can they improve the country. There a better way to close saritem by force or CRAP laws or human right. The government should just educate People around Indonesia. Provide jobs, better education will mean people will get smarter, providing jobs will create better living. Most of the girls in saritem are working as prostitutes because they find themselves in a difficult situation where financial. Where they couldn’t find a good job or worst not a single job available. EVEN they can’t shut it down.they should at less provide these girls with cheap and routine check ups, and re-educate them and provide them counsellings.

    As far as I know some of these girls come willingly because they need a job and money badly for their family use, while others are being cheated.

    I heard from one the girls before that she was cheated by someone. He claimed to provide a good job and pay in the city, and they need not have to pay the cost until they got their pay. He will provide all the transportation fees and everything they need. They would provide them stay and stuff.
    Well eventually they didn’t know anything thing till they arrive in the city.
    So let’s ask the real question here? Who should we blame for the cause of all of this?

  6. Van Hellsing says:

    I agree with Munafikbangetloepade. Those goverment people need to get out more, get a life! Get a better life I presume. They haven’t fixed up the corruptions, but they are blaming others for not doing ‘the right things’. Assholes, I really want to go to saritem. *sob* wtf, did I say it out loud?

  7. David says:

    An anonymous commenter wrote this comment. If the anonymous commenter wants to have his comments published in future he/she better give an email address:

    Well, actually today is the last day for Saritem. Midnight is the deadline, and tomorrow (April 18, 2007) at 9am will be the final time to clear out of Saritem.

    This is a good step toward a ‘cleaner’ way of life. Yes, maybe the government need to fix the trash problem first. Yes, maybe the government need to fix the mud flood first. Yes, maybe the government need to fix (“¦ fill in the blank “¦) first. Noticed the pattern? Looking at ‘that’, you actually can see the common style of Indonesia’s government: we will do this, but later after we did that, which is later when those thing happens, etc, blablabla, and so on. We need to START on something, right? The government can’t do everything at the same time, well maybe they should but not yet capable of.

    The closing of Saritem can be seen as their FIRST step toward what need to be done. If Saritem, with 200 years of history can finally be closed (wow.. 200 years before someone can do something), the fixing the trash problem, the mud problem, etc, can also be done.. but maybe in another 200 years. ^_^

    There are some cons to the closing of Saritem, because some lost their way to earn their living (no.. not just the prostitute, but the neighboring sellers, etc). Just think it like this: a SIN is a SIN is a SIN. They ‘used’ Saritem to make money (say, like selling condoms, drinks, etc). They see this as not a sinful conduct. Yes, selling products are not sinful, but only if it is about non-sin-related activities. Selling knives is not sinful, but how about selling knives to murderers? Again, a SIN is a SIN is a SIN.

    Hopefully, this closing down of Saritem will last forever, not just for a month or two. Or maybe Saritem will change to a somekind online ordering home delivery service?


  8. pj_bali says:

    Honestly do people really expect prostitution to just up and disappear because they closed a red light district? Wake up! Actions like this just allow sactimonious politicians to pat each other on the back for “cleaning up the morality problem” in Bandung. Now instead of having all the prostitutes in one place they will scatter throughout the city for a few months until a new area appears. Its analagous to that whack-a-mole arcade game where you hit the mole on the the head only to have another mole appear somewhere else. The money spent on this program would have been better utilised to protect the women who are working in the industry.

    Funny how the service providers can be fined 50 mil and the service users (those with money) can be fined only 5 mil.


  9. Ateh says:


    I am visiting bandung 1st time. What is the latest. Is it really closed?

    I heard chinese girls are now operating in bandung. Any comments.


  10. inka says:

    Dealing with the sex workers, we should not blame them. If the work is their choice, just let them to do that, but if they are abused, we have to help them. However, I observe most sex workers in Indonesia are abused both by the people and the government. Government and people in Indonesia stop your hypocrisy!!! They would not be sex workers if government can provide them jobs. They need to survive so be respect to them!!!

  11. mustang says:

    Hi, I am still querious. Is Saritem open for business or have they( sex workers ) spread all over Bandung; due to its closure?
    Seriously I am looking forward to a trip to Bandung; so if you guys can give some info about Saritem I would be grateful.

  12. Rob says:

    Open or closed, it does not really matter. Although, the last I heard was that it was closed and there redevelopment plans posted. But, that was some time ago.

    The general advice that you will get through this thread and others like it is to enquire of the locals. Local knowledge will point you in the right direction. Taxi drivers, ojek riders (motor cycle taxis), warung and warteg operators, among many others will assist you in your quest.

    Good luck! Don’t forget to post your up-to-date information on what you learn.

  13. agus ahmad safei says:

    Saya, Agus Ahmad Safei, bermaksud memohon ijin untuk memakai poto “protest signs at Saritem” dalam artikel yang saya tulis bersama teman saya, Julian Millie, yang akan dimuat Jurnal Inside Indonesia. Saya akan sangat berterima kasih kalau pihak Indonesia Matters memberikan ijin pemakaian poto dimaksud.
    Terima kasih atas kerjasama dan perhatiannya.

    Agus Ahmad Safei

  14. Shaliala says:

    EXCELLENT!!!!!!! The closing of Saritem is the right thing to do. Prostitutes, as well as the whorish males and females that make use of their services should be given the same penalties under the law. Please, help these prostitutes to aquire honorable employment. Thank you

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