This article originally appeared on VICE Indonesia.
Prostitution is illegal in Indonesia, but one politician from a prominent political party decided he needed to remind his fellow citizens of this fact — by hiring a sex worker.
The deputy secretary general of the nationwide Gerindra Party, Andre Rosiade, allegedly hired a 26-year-old female sex worker using a false name in his hometown of Padang, West Sumatra province on January 26. He then sent one of his associates to meet the woman in a hotel.
The sex worker said she performed oral sex on Rosiade’s associate before police raided the hotel room, accompanied by Rosiade and journalists with cameras. Still naked, she ran to the restroom and did not come out until a female police officer brought her clothes.
After police entered the hotel room, the client was nowhere to be found.
“I panicked and stood behind him [the client]. He opened the door, and I searched for a towel to cover myself, but there were no towels anywhere in the room. I thought that was odd for a hotel. It seemed like a set-up,” she told local media on February 4. “There were journalists, and there was nowhere for me to run. I couldn’t lie. But if it was a sting operation, why did he have to use me first?”
Rosiade then shared a video of the raid on his Twitter account with the caption: “This is homework for all of us, not just for the police.”
Stefanus Setianto, a spokesperson for West Sumatra police, told local media that Rosiade ordered the raid after the politician expressed his desire to prove that sex workers can easily be hired online in Padang. In what Rosiade likely saw as a heroic gesture, he set out to remind the Padang government of this by exploiting a sex worker, so that they might be more willing to cooperate with police to put an end to prostitution.
“Rosiade wanted to play a part in eradicating this vice. He lured a sex worker using his friend’s account on the application MiChat. He conducted the transaction and agreed on the location and a Rp800,000 ($58.51) fee,” Setianto told local media.
According to a reservation receipt obtained by local media, Rosiade booked a hotel room for one night on January 26, designating a man named Bimo Nurahman as the guest. But when police showed the woman a photo of Bimo, she said her client was someone older.
When local media asked Rosiade if he had sent an associate to pose as a client, he avoided giving straightforward answers.
“Ask the police about that, not me. It’s unethical for me to divulge that information because it’s a police matter now,” he told local media. He also denied that any sexual relations took place between the sex worker and the mysterious client, which contradicts the woman’s testimony.
“I can guarantee the room was not reserved under my name. I was never at reception. I never paid for it. I am currently reaching out to the hotel to figure out how my name ended up on the receipt for the reservation,” Rosiade said.
Dodging most questions about the raid itself, Rosiade continued to stress the fact that prostitution exists in Padang, and that sex workers can be hired online.
Many have criticised the politician for posting the video of the sex worker.
“There is no need to conduct a raid to prove that prostitution exists," Siti Aminah, Commissioner of the Indonesian Women’s Commission, told local media. "It’s humiliating and degrading. Sensationalising the issue is not the way to go.”