SCAMS IN THE CITY

Courts of pub­lic opin­ion are swift to judge sex scan­dals, but on­line moral outrage of­ten over­looks the worst vil­lains.

Indonesia Expat - - Meet The Expat - BY KEN­NETH YE­UNG

Sex­ploita­tion, Lies and Video

Amid the al­most daily al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual abuse by Hol­ly­wood celebri­ties, there is an un­der­stand­able re­sponse of con­dem­na­tion and moral in­dig­na­tion.

In In­done­sia, a few ac­tors and singers have faced sim­i­lar ac­cu­sa­tions in re­cent years, but the lo­cal me­dia tends to jump strong­est on men sus­pected of abus­ing boys. There is even greater moral outrage when for­eign­ers are ac­cused of sex­u­ally ex­ploit­ing In­done­sian women. In such cases, ex­pa­tri­ates are of­ten just as ea­ger to de­nounce their fel­low for­eign­ers.

That’s what hap­pened when an Amer­i­can call­ing him­self David Bond ar­rived in In­done­sia in Oc­to­ber, pre­ceded by his rep­u­ta­tion for se­duc­ing and film­ing Asian women. On­line news por­tal Co­conuts Jakarta branded him a racist misog­y­nis­tic creep and warned that of­fi­cials were on the look­out for him.

A Bri­tish YouTu­ber posted a video about Bond, en­ti­tled “In­done­sia’s Big­gest Sex Tourist Ex­posed.” It soon gained 100,000 views and the com­ments sec­tion at­tracted a mob men­tal­ity of “let’s take this guy down!” View­ers also posted death threats and ac­cu­sa­tions of sex crimes.

In­done­sian head­lines warned of “Sex Ma­niac Bule Seek­ing In­done­sian Women for Adult Movies.” Re­ports ac­cused Bond of tar­get­ing women in poor coun­tries, film­ing him­self hav­ing sex with them (with­out their per­mis­sion to film), and sell­ing the videos on­line.

It turns out that Bond is just a me­dia ma­nip­u­la­tor. You may con­sider him sleazy and amoral, but he isn’t sell­ing ex­plicit sex tapes. In­stead, he prof­its from his no­to­ri­ety by sell­ing rel­a­tively tame videos on­line.

And he doesn’t fit the stereo­typ­i­cal im­age of the bald­ing, el­derly, over­weight, beer­swill­ing sex tourist. He’s 30 and in good shape.

Bond’s story started in 2013 when he left Amer­ica for the first time and took a holiday to Ja­pan. Some Amer­i­can friends later sought his ad­vice on how to flirt with Ja­panese women. This led to an e-guide called “A Com­plete Id­iot’s Guide to Get­ting Laid in Ja­pan.” He also started a YouTube chan­nel, show­ing his en­coun­ters with women. He some­times uses sexy click­bait thumb­nails to at­tract more in­ter­est.

In 2014, Bond posted a video shot in Hong Kong, show­ing one of his friends pick­ing up a wo­man who had ear­lier been in the com­pany of a Chi­nese man. It went viral, gen­er­ated hos­tile re­ac­tions and made the news. In­ter­viewed by the lo­cal me­dia, Bond tried to de­fend him­self but he was re­peat­edly por­trayed as a dan­ger­ous West­ern sex­ual preda­tor and pornog­ra­pher. He de­cided to cap­i­tal­ize on the neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity by pay­ing vir­tual as­sis­tants to spread sto­ries that his web­site con­tained sex videos. The me­dia took the bait and gave him more at­ten­tion, re­sult­ing in huge sales of his “pre­mium” travel videos – which show him rid­ing a mo­tor­bike, vis­it­ing tem­ples or just flirt­ing and hang­ing out with women. Bond repli­cated his strat­egy across sev­eral coun­tries, court­ing con­tro­versy to cash-in on video sales. He also uses fake Face­book ac­counts, pos­ing as young Asian women, to leak photos and lewd tales of him­self, re­sult­ing in more cov­er­age and more sales. He says most of the buy­ers are Asian men.

Bond says there’s no such thing as bad pub­lic­ity as all of the on­line hate, lies and ru­mours are good for busi­ness. In Jakarta, he was warned he would be beaten up by the Is­lamic De­fend­ers Front (FPI), ar­rested by po­lice and banned by Im­mi­gra­tion. None of that hap­pened. He is care­ful not to re­veal his real name, so go­ing through im­mi­gra­tion checks at air­ports is yet to be a prob­lem.

He points out that an Asian-Amer­i­can pick-up artist, who goes by the han­dle

Mike Squat­tinCas­sanova, pro­duces sim­i­lar videos; but doesn’t at­tract neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity in Asia be­cause he is Asian. Then there’s a Euro­pean guy call­ing him­self John Tron, who films him­self hav­ing sex with young pros­ti­tutes across Asia and sells the videos on­line. Where’s the moral outrage and ha­tred against him?

Pick- up Artists & Pay­ing Cus­tomers

The com­mu­nity and meth­ods of pick-up artists were made fa­mous in a 2005 book called The Game by Neil Strauss, who is now mar­ried with a child and has killed off his pick-up per­sona. The book proved pop­u­lar in Jakarta and there was even an unau­tho­rized In­done­sian edi­tion of its se­quel, The Rules of the Game.

Some male ex­pats claim ex­per­tise is not a pre­req­ui­site for a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship in In­done­sia. “You don’t need to buy lessons to get laid here,” says one Bri­tish ex­pa­tri­ate. “You just need a per­son­al­ity or money, and Tin­der.” Men who think pay­ing for sex re­quires skill might en­joy one of In­done­sia’s best­selling non-fic­tion books, Jakarta Un­der­cover

(2002), which de­scribes the au­thor’s ex­pe­ri­ences in var­i­ous broth­els and sex clubs. Writ­ten by men’s in­ter­est mag­a­zine jour­nal­ist Moam­mar Emka, the book aims to tit­il­late and in­form read­ers. It spawned two se­quels and two dread­ful movies. In the third book, Moam­mar vis­its a brothel spe­cial­iz­ing in girls aged 14–19. He drools over their fresh faces and small bod­ies, and ends up singing the praises of a 17 year- old girl. Moral outrage? None. He went on to write an­other sex guide­book called Jakarta X- plorer.

Con­sent­ing Adults

Film­ing sex is riskier than writ­ing about it. Sex tape scan­dals have be­come com­mon in In­done­sia. One of the ear­li­est was in 2001 when two col­lege stu­dents, Amed and Nanda, filmed them­selves hav­ing fun in a Jakarta ho­tel room. Amed took the film to a lo­cal video compact disc (VCD) shop to make some pri­vate copies. A worker at the shop, Yayan, saved a copy, which was later up­loaded to the in­ter­net and spread like wild­fire. Po­lice ar­rested Yayan and his col­leagues. The two stu­dents were also ar­rested but charges against them were later dropped on the grounds they had never in­tended to share their film. Less lucky was pop star Nazril “Ariel” Irham, lead singer of the band Peter­pan (now called Noah), who was fond of film­ing him­self hav­ing sex with var­i­ous girl­friends. He was ar­rested in June 2010 after videos were posted on­line, show­ing him cop­u­lat­ing with ac­tresses Luna Maya and Cut Tari. The videos were copied from his lap­top by a Peter­pan em­ployee, Reza

Rizaldy, whose cousin posted them on­line. Ariel was in 2011 sen­tenced to three-and-ahalf years in jail and fined Rp.250 mil­lion for dis­tribut­ing pornog­ra­phy, while Reza re­ceived a two-year sen­tence. There were ru­mours Ariel was pun­ished be­cause one of his girl­friends was linked to a prom­i­nent busi­ness­man.

No Con­sent

In 2003, po­lice ar­rested a fash­ion pho­tog­ra­pher, Budi Han, who in Oc­to­ber 1997 se­cretly filmed six mod­els get­ting changed at his stu­dio in Te­bet, South Jakarta. Shoot­ing through a two-way mir­ror, Budi’s two as­sis­tants recorded the women in var­i­ous states of nu­dity. Some of the footage was later trans­ferred to VCD and posted on­line. Three of the mod­els re­ported Budi to po­lice. He ini­tially de­nied any wrong­do­ing but soon of­fered “peace money” of Rp. 50 mil­lion (then US$5,150) to some of the vic­tims. South Jakarta District Court gave him just one year in jail. Two of his as­sis­tants re­ceived ten-month jail terms, while the agent who brought the women to the stu­dio re­ceived nine months. To­day, Budi still works as a fash­ion pho­tog­ra­pher from the same premises. No mas­sive, pub­lic, moral outrage.

Soap Cast­ing Scam

In 2000, a Jakarta-based video pro­duc­tion com­pany called In­dochroma Proadvi re­cruited women and girls for cast­ing ses­sions for a spu­ri­ous soap ad­ver­tise­ment. They were asked to un­dress and sim­u­late bathing with soap. Nine of them, aged 16–22, were recorded and the footage was released in 2002 on a VCD called Soap Ad Cast­ing. A key sus­pect in the case was the cast­ing di­rec­tor, Ge­orge Ir­van, who worked as a voiceover man for Metro TV. Pros­e­cu­tors rec­om­mended a jail sen­tence of six months, but Cen­tral Jakarta District Court ruled him not guilty be­cause he had not pro­duced the porno­graphic VCDs and he thought the nude footage would be deleted. The Supreme Court qui­etly up­held his acquittal in 2005. Zero moral outrage.

In­de­cency, Bribery & In­dif­fer­ence

In re­cent years, moral outrage has been mag­ni­fied by the pro­lif­er­a­tion of so­cial me­dia and smart­phones, cou­pled with In­done­sia’s po­lit­i­cal ex­ploita­tion of con­ser­va­tive Is­lam and ho­mo­pho­bia. In Fe­bru­ary 2016, actor and dan­g­dut singer Saipul Jamil, the ex-hus­band of scan­dalous ac­tress Dewi Per­sik, was widely crit­i­cized after be­ing ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of sex­u­ally abus­ing a 17-year- old boy. When Saipul went on trial at North Jakarta District Court, state pros­e­cu­tors rec­om­mended a seven-year sen­tence. At the be­hest of his lawyer and a clerk of the court, he pro­vided a bribe of Rp.250 mil­lion and was in June 2017 sen­tenced to three years in jail. The fol­low­ing month, he re­ceived an ad­di­tional three years for bribery, on top of hav­ing his ini­tial sen­tence ex­tended to five years. Sex­ploita­tion in In­done­sia comes in many forms. Like­wise, sex tourism comes in many guises, from Sin­ga­pore­ans vis­it­ing broth­els on neigh­bour­ing Batam Is­land to Ja­panese women pay­ing for sex with young men in Bali, and Aus­tralian pae­dophiles seek­ing boys on the same re­sort is­land. Ob­vi­ously, any sex­ual ac­tion with­out con­sent is wrong, as is child abuse. While it’s easy to de­nounce al­leged abusers with a pub­lic pro­file, con­sider that most cases of child sex­ual abuse in In­done­sia oc­cur within fam­i­lies or a school en­vi­ron­ment. Of­ten, there’s no outrage or jus­tice for these vic­tims.

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