Indonesia Burned Hundreds of Sex Toys Amid Spiking Demand

Sex toys are illegal in Indonesia, but the online orders are rolling in.
translated by Annisa Nurul Aziza
Jakarta, ID
sex toy,indonesia,covid-19
American-made sex dolls. Photo: David McNew / Getty Images North America / Getty Images via AFP

Indonesian authorities destroyed hundreds of sex toys on Friday as demand for the prohibited devices has spiked during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sex toys are illegal in the conservative country. Officials say they corrupt public morals and routinely intercept shipments, torching them as though they were illicit drugs.

In their most recent bust, a total of 442 sex toys were destroyed in Bandung, the capital of the Indonesian province of West Java.


Dwiyono Widodo, a customs official who led the operation, told Indonesian news site Detik that the pandemic had led to a surge in online sales of sex toys. At a press conference, he displayed a range of seized sex toys including a masturbation sleeve and a purple dildo.

The devices are mostly imported from China, which produces 70 percent of the world’s sex toys. Chinese toy makers said sales jumped a whopping 50 percent in the first half of 2020. In February, customs officers at the Kualanamu International Airport in North Sumatra confiscated hundreds of sex toys imported from China.

Indonesian authorities have carried out raids on sex toys since at least as early as 2015. But despite government prohibition, sex toys are a lucrative trade in Indonesia.

Lian Kie, who runs an adult store in Yogyakarta, in Central Java, told VICE World News that he wasn’t aware of the illegality of sex toys, citing the existing network of suppliers and distributors for the products.

But Indonesian customs have not been able to block all sex toys entering the country because they are not imported in bulk.

“Sex toys are mainly for private consumption. There are usually only one or two items in each delivery,” Elfi Haris, a customs official, told Waspada about the raid in the Kualanamu airport.

The surging demand for sex toys has been a global phenomenon during the pandemic. 

Steffi Noel, an analyst at Shanghai-based market research firm Daxue Consulting, said the growth came mostly from France, Italy and the US, according to the AFP

A boom in sex toy sales during the pandemic has also been reported in New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, Colombia and the United Kingdom.