JAKARTA – Bulldozers started demolishing hundreds of buildings in the Indonesian capital’s largest red-light district on Monday as part of a nationwide effort to eradicate prostitution in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.
Jakarta’s Kalijodo, long home to thousands of sex workers, is the latest of nearly 70 red-light districts shut down in Indonesia. The government wants to close the remaining around 100 more by 2019.
Prostitution is illegal in Indonesia but rampant in most major cities.
Under high security, bulldozers were seen destroying dozens of homes and sex-oriented businesses in the Jakarta neighborhood, which the governor wants to turn into a park.
“First, we need to demolish all houses and revert the land to be used for a green open space, which has been the main function of the area since the very beginning. Once it is all completed, we will rebuild the area immediately,” Anas Effendi, West Jakarta Mayor, told reporters.
An accident by a drunk motorist that killed four in Kalijodo earlier this month prompted Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama to order the closing of the neighborhood.
Authorities gave Kalijodo’s 3,000 residents a week to clear the area with some relocated to government-subsidized apartments. Evicted sex workers were also given vocational training.
Some of those relocated, however, were finding it difficult to find employment.
“My husband is still jobless as he already stopped his business,” said Kania Fauziah, whose husband was a caretaker at a Kalijodo entertainment business.