Saturday, January 22, 2011

A brief mapping report Bali to identify the sex workers for STI/HIV intervention activities

Bali being the most significant tourism hub of Indonesia has already demonstrated its potential of housing one of the most prominent commercial sex work networks of the country.

The estimated population of female sex workers (FSWs) in Bali, concentrated in and around Denpasar city is more than 4000. About 25 % of the estimates are direct FSWs, available mainly in the Sanur area of Denpasar. Surprisingly there is no brothel like structure in Bali but some areas are earmarked for the FSWs where they wait for their clients to come, choose and pick them up to escort to the desired places (hotel rooms) for sex. The business is primarily controlled by the pimps and entertainment managers. The FSWs carry condom though consistent condom use with clients is not well established and mostly controlled by the clients. Screening of the FSWs is done chiefly in the local NGO clinic (YKP) and the local puskesmas of Sanur.

Commercial sex work is not tolerated by Bali administration and law. So the commercial sex work is of hidden nature and shows ‘indirect’ characteristic in many places.

There are basically four types of indirect sex work set ups in Bali which I describe below:   

1)      Massage parlor: Sexual services are provided to the clients on demand and high price though it is completely of hidden type due to fear of closure by the local administration. Condom use pattern is not known. The recently conducted PPT rounds in Bali covered about 400 FSWs of the massage parlors through the activities by the local NGO clinics. The massage parlor visited by us reported that a team of health workers usually comes once a month from the local NGO to do the health screening of the girls. The massage services have a wide range of costs starting from 70,000 to 250,000 INR.

2)      Karaoke bars: The karaoke bar we visited in Bali confessed about providing sexual services but not within the karaoke premises. The client can select the girl from the show room, take her to the lounge for drinks, food and singing (rate around 250,000 INR for 2-3 hours) or to the selected rooms of the bar for closer company (each room fitted with TV, audio system, air conditioner) on higher rates (starting from 600,000 INR). For sexual activities the girl can be taken to the near by hotels (arrangement can be done by the bar people on demand) and rate ranges from 1million to 1.5 million depending on the type and duration of services. The girls are generally provided condoms from the bar (Durex) but the bar managers are not sure of their uses. During our visit when we asked to see condom from their stock surprisingly we were refused. Whether the FSWs of karaoke bars were covered under the PPT round is not confirmed though the smell of sex work in this place appeared to be stronger and prominent than the massage parlor.

3)      Bars & restaurants: Not many but a few bars & restaurants (not night clubs) have girls who provide sex if asked, but on high price. If you go and sit in one of those restaurants (especially along Kuta road) you will be soon accompanied by a girl. They will generally offer full body massage at the rate of 200,000 – 250,000 INR per hour and sex on demand, with price ranging from 600,000 to 1 million within the bar premises. One can also take the girl to the hotel and in such cases the cost will be lower because the girl does not have to pay the commission money to the bar owners. Condom use is entirely dependent on the clients. The girl I talked to was willing to do even anal sex without condom on higher price. The place I visited had a unique poster inside promoting the use of Viagra as a potential stimulant of sex.

4)      Female bikers: Bikers are popular local transporters of the tourists in Bali and many local girls are involved in this lucrative business. Near Kuta beach I was approached by such a female biker who was middle aged and offered me sensual massage along with carrying me back to the hotel. After little interrogation she confessed of providing sexual services on higher rates (massage 200,000 INR and sex around 500,000 INR per hour). But condom use depends solely on the clients.

I did not notice any street based sex workers in Bali like Semarang. But soliciting for providing massage and sex services by the pimps, cab drivers, bikers is a very common experience in the streets of Denpasar.

The night clubs seem to be also favorite cruising sites chosen by the sex professionals to tap the clients in Bali.

The hidden nature of commercial sex work is challenging in terms of reaching the sex workers with the  message of safe sex and STI/HIV related services.

Sugata Mukhopadhyay
Universal Health

1 comment:

uchenna said...

This is great and very analytic,it gave me a better insight on documenting my works.
Keep it up Doc.