Batam city suggests legalizing prostitution

The Batam municipal administration has warmly welcomed proposal by the Batam municipal council to collect 10 percent in tax from prostitution as part of efforts to boost the locally-generated revenue (PAD).

The municipality, through the Batam Social Services Office, has proposed to the city council to first legalize the status of the prostitution center in Batam in order to collect the tax.

Batam Social Services Office head M. Sahir said if the city council firmly intended to collect tax from prostitution, it should first legalize the status of the Sintai prostitution complex.

“We suggest the city council legalize the prostitution complex to serve as a legal platform for tax collection. Currently, there are no tax contributions from prostitution,” he said.

He added in 2002, based on a mutual agreement between the Batam Industrial Development Authority (BIDA) and the Batam municipality, they closed down all brothels in Batam and relocated them in an area later called the Sintai rehabilitation center.

Data at the social services office showed Sintai is home to 40 bars and 850 sex workers. The office provides religious counseling, medical checks and exercise sessions to the sex workers every week. The redlight district is only based on a mutual agreement between the Batam municipality and BIDA.

“If the municipality wants to collect tax from Sintai, it should formulate a legal umbrella because the place is only based on an agreement between the municipality and BIDA,” Sahir said.

Head of the bar association at the Sintai prostitution complex, Nacheng, said his group objected to the 10
percent tax collection from sex services. “This is a burden on bar operators and sex workers. If there is a tax, prices would rise, while our businesses have no formal recognition,” he said.

The Batam municipal council had earlier proposed collecting a 10 percent tax from sex transactions in Batam. The proposal was made on the grounds that the Sintai prostitution complex consisted of 40 bars, each with at least 30 sex workers. Each sex transaction cost Rp 150,000 (about US$15) and each sex worker serves at least three clients daily.