Indonesian leader encourages sex tourism
The vice president said he saw nothing wrong with Arabs paying local women to marry and then later divorcing them.india Updated: Jun 29, 2006 13:07 IST
Indonesia's vice president said that he saw nothing wrong with Arab men paying local women to marry and then divorcing them days or hours later.
In fact, he suggested that the practice - dismissed by critics as legalised prostitution - could boost tourism.
Jusuf Kalla made the remarks at a travel industry seminar on how to attract more Arab visitors to Indonesia. It was not clear whether he was joking, though his comments caused laughter in the audience.
Kalla said that many Arab tourists currently travelled to the hill town of Puncak near Jakarta to enter into short-term marriage contracts with Indonesian women.
"We need different kinds of marketing campaigns, which are more targeted. At the moment most Arabs go to Puncak. If they go there looking for widows or divorcees, is not our business, not our problem.
"So what if the man goes home and the lady gets a small house. That is good, isn't it?"
Women activists say that the weddings, which are not recognised by the state but are blessed by Islamic clerics for a fee, are a form of legalised prostitution and encourages poor families to sell their daughters for sex.
Media reports say that the practice is common throughout Indonesia, and that most of the grooms are local men.
Puncak is notorious for prostitution, and signs in Arabic at several restaurants and hotels testify to the area's popularity with Arab visitors.