Hoodlums exploit street children in Surabaya

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Subject: Hoodlums exploit street children in Surabaya
From: Jeffrey D. Ballinger (jeffreyd@mindspring.com)
Date: Tue Jun 08 1999 - 12:59:12 EDT


>Jakarta Post
>06 June 1999
>
>Street children face exploitation in Surabaya
>
>By Gin Kurniawan
>
>SURABAYA (JP): As night arrives, Kembang Kuning graveyard comes alive. This
>is the place where many men satisfy their sexual drives. In fact, at night,
>the graveyard becomes a meat market.
>
>Hundreds of sex workers, including transvestites and some children, work in
>this 4-hectare Chinese graveyard, charging customers between Rp 3,000 and Rp
>10,000 (40 cents to $1.50, U.S.). Dozens of child beggars, street singers and
cigarette vendors also scramble to make a living in the graveyard.
>
>On this particular night, several boys were seen sitting in a dark corner
>near a tomb. From a distance, a light was seen for some seconds, then it went
>dark again. This was repeated several times. Once in a while the boys
>laughed. They were playing the so-called "Matches Sex" game.
>
>The boys surrounded a girl, call her Yeyen, 11, who sat on the tomb. She was
>the object in this game. As one of the boys lit a match, she had to pull up
>her skirt to allow the boys to look at her.
>
>Yeyen receives Rp 500 every time the match is lit. That is the current price,
>which has increased from Rp 100 before the crisis. But Yeyen does not get to
>keep all of the money because she has to give about half of her earnings to a
>hoodlum.
>
>What happens to Yeyen is one of many examples of the exploitation of street
>children in Surabaya. They are abused by adults who make money from them.
>Many of the children are forced to enter prostitution.
>
>Yeyen, who also has been forced into prostitution, is known as the Queen of
>the Matches Sex game in Kembang Kuning graveyard. The term Matches Sex is not
>only popular in the graveyard, but also in other places in Surabaya,
>including the red-light districts near the Bungurasih and Joyoboyo bus
>terminals and the Wonokromo and Gubeng train stations. Similar exploitation
>reportedly also takes place in Yogyakarta and it is possible that it happens
>in other big cities as well.
>
>Exploitation of street children in Surabaya has reached an alarming level and
>it is likely that there are syndicates behind the abuse. These syndicates
>reportedly not only involve hoodlums, but also employees of the city security
>and order office.
>
>"They make street children milch cows and treat them like slaves," Bagong
>Suyanto, chairman of the Institution for the Protection of Children in East
>Java, said.
>
>According to Bagong, street children seem to "live in a jungle" where those
>who are strong overpower the weak. Street children are the weak, therefore
>they become the targets of those who are physically strong or those who have
>power. And those who have power are hoodlums and employees of the security
>and order office.
>
>The street children have to give money to the hoodlums who run the streets
>where they struggle to make money.
>
>"If we want to be safe, we have to give them money every day," Amir, 17, a
>vendor at Joyoboyo bus terminal, said.
>
>There are also some employees of the security and order office who launch
>raids against street children. It seems, however, that the raids are only a
>cover to extort money from the children.
>
>"As long as we give them money, we are free to sell our goods," Amir said.
>
>Nanang, a street singer who works in Bungurasih terminal, said that once he
>was assaulted because he refused to give money to a hoodlum.
>
>"We have to obey them, otherwise things would become really bad," Nanang
>said.
>
>Bagong, who is also a social researcher at Airlangga University, said street
>children are an easy target for extortion because the children themselves
>make quite good money. Joint research conducted by Atma Jaya University in
>Jakarta and the East Java Institute for the Protection of Children showed
>that the children earn an average of between Rp 15,000 and Rp 30,000 a day.
>
>There are about 5,000 street children in Surabaya, an increase from about
>2,000 children before the economic crisis. Most of them work as street
>singers, hawkers and beggars.
>
>"Just imagine how much the hoodlums make if the children have to give them
>half of their earnings," Bagong said.
>


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