Discussion / Event

Published: 03/12/2010

The book review of “Jakarta Uncovered- Dismantling Wickedness, Building New Consciousness” by Nori Andriyani discussed about a number of cliché excuses of men in maintaining their habit of buying sexual services from women. The bad habit perpetuates the oppression of women as the business links to the trafficking of women and children, debt bondage of women who are sold, physical violence against women, rape and economic exploitation of women. The event was organized by Women Research Institute on Thursday, December 2, 2010 in the Office of WRI.


The book review was expected to deeply explore the contents of the book that eventually would raise new awareness about the issue and also invite us to make changes as expected by the author of the book.

WRI Director Sita Aripurnami initiated the event by emphasizing the importance of the book in contributing knowledge due to the proximity of the reality depicted in the book and us. The issue has been our problem. It relates to feminism, gender relations and sexuality in society.

The presence of a significant number of participants indicated the enthusiasm to the book review. Furthermore, the WRI Director introduced the moderator of the book review, Nur Iman Subono, and the book author, Nori Andriyani.

Nur Iman Subono (Boni) started the book review by comparing the contrast between Jakarta Uncovered with a book of M. Emka entitled Jakarta Undercover. Both books discussed the same issue but using different perspectives, resulting in the difference in their respective analysis. In her book, Nori did not use the term prostitute and PSK (Sexual Commercial Workers) as she took into account the problems of perforce. Emka appeared to be in a dilemma. On one side, Emka attempted to address the issue but he also raised the issue of morality. Feminists have some variations, including abolitionist feminists who envision eliminating the problems of women. Nori was in this position.

Nori started with the book’s chapter on wickedness, discussing a provocative case as it could happen to anyone in particular those living in countries implementing capitalist system, where the people are very individualistic. The second thing was the demand of men to sexual business has made the business grow rapidly and not even hidden anymore. It is the male factor that lost in the discourse regarding the problem, particularly in Indonesia. Her stand point was that by cutting the demand, women’s involvement in the business could be disconnected. Why should we see it from the view of demand? What should we do? First, we need to dismantle our mindset that the problem is a never-ending one as the problem could be very close to us. There should be a campaign about this issue to people closest to us. So far, there has been no guidance on how to educate children to cope with this problem. Nori hoped that this book may inspire readers to be able and willing to do something.

Before the question and answer session, Boni summarized the review of the book author that prostitution is closely associated with violence and circulation of money. People used to position themselves in the silent majority. It is important for us to start moving and awakening the silent majority. There were a number of responses and questions in the question and answer session. Someone commented that the book has captured the high demand of men in the business of prostitution and it was not something people were aware of. The issue of prostitution has been very complex and entrapping women. Many women are trapped while men who have a lot of money consciously run the business.

There was a question regarding the “Madonna Syndrome Complex”. Is it true that this behavior is due to dissatisfaction with the spouse at home or because of the society’s cultural construction of sexuality? A questioner did not agree with the term “Kemaksiatan” (Wickedness) because this issue could be viewed from different viewpoints. There was also a question about the meaning of “prostitute” in the book. If the framework is not clear, all prostitutes could be positioned as victims. It is a reality that some women consciously choose to work as prostitutes. It happens because, in their minds, selling body is just like any other trading activities.

The author responded to all feedback and questions. The concept of prostitution used in the book came from Dworking, who is a former prostitute. The book also includes the structural economic analysis on women’s sexual relations based on coercion. Individualism in a capitalist system is also considered influential to the issue. Another issue is the nature of consumerism, which continues to establish needs. Many women eventually involve in prostitution to fulfill their consumerism needs although there still be pimps.

The moderator provided opportunities for reviewers, Myra Diarsi and Nia Dinata, to discuss about the book. Myra discussed about the book writing as she considered the author has yet to use feminist tools and instruments to analyze the results. The world of sex industry, which involves trafficking, needs a comprehensive and accurate observation. The issue about demand and supply was not simple as the supply will do whatever possible to create high and existing demand. The book of Emka is part of the supply. What needs to be eradicated is not only the demand but also the market because it is the market that attracts people to move there. It is nothing as simple as cutting the demand.

The book reveals some new findings, including how organized it is sexual services. For example, a masseuse who works in a spa. The masseuse was trapped to sell her sexuality in addition to her massage works. The system forced them to work with their vagina, skin and mouth. In the movie of Pertaruhan (Betting), there existed pride, something that the author thought not existence. Pride exists but only in the exclusive circles. It is not appropriate to place moral foundation on pride. It also happens to female migrant workers (TKW). Parents consciously encourage their daughters to become migrant workers because there is pride on higher income. There should be made a strict difference between trafficking or sex industry for public education. The problem should be addressed in an organized attempt. However, it should also address the system instead of only users and the women.

Nia Dinata said that the book was the antidote of Jakarta Undercover. People who read Jakarta Undercover must also read Jakarta Uncover for the sake of balance. However, night life is forbidden for women. The most interesting part of the book is how to educate boys and girls about gender equality and how to treat women. Sex is part of the needs sex education must be given to children. Girls, do not be afraid of your sexuality.