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Download this Chapter PDF. One way to see them as innocent victims is to believe that they have been forced into sex work against their will. Thus, the media and anti- prostitution activists often pay disproportionate attention to cases where women claim to have been forced into sex work against their will. S ingkawang is a small city in West Kalimantan. With its vast forests and coconut and oil plantations, sparsely populated West Kalimantan has always attracted migrants looking for work.
In addition to the indigenous Dayak population, many Madurese, Bugis, and Javanese live in the area. In the past, coolies were brought in from China to labor in the plantations. Their descendants continue to live throughout the region, working as farmers, traders, and laborers.
Singkawang has a large sex industry. Many women work in small coffee shops, or warung kopi. Men come to the coffee shops and pay inflated prices for coffee and beer. While they drink, the women keep them company. Many of the women are available for paid sex at nearby short-time hotels. In addition, there are brothels in the city and nearby villages. Some prostitutes work from the streets and markets. Still others can be contacted by mobile telephone, either directly or through pimps.
The women come from across the region and beyond, particularly from certain specific regions and districts in Java. Apparently, men from these countries pay large fees for introductions to women from Singkawang. The reports claim that the exported brides are often badly treated in their new countries.
Many women from the region work abroad as contract workers, usually as domestic servants. Mostly they work in the Middle East, Singapore, and Malaysia. Some travel with work permits organized by agents. Many work illegally, particularly in Malaysia, which shares a land border with Kalimantan. Many succeed in making good money in countries where salaries are much higher than in Indonesia.