Want to know more about sex in Indonesia?
Indonesia is a vast country that extends to around 17,000 islands and is a diverse nation of congested cities, rural and mountainous communities as well as popular tourist resorts such as Bali, Lombok and Kuta. Covering an expanse of the Indian Ocean that is 2,830 km wide and with 54,716 km of coastline, Indonesia is the 10th most popular tourist destination in the Asia-Pacific region. Entertaining around 13 million international guests each year, the country offers a huge range of attractions; from active volcanoes, the jungles of Borneo and Bali’s pristine beaches to the bustling urban metropolis of Jakarta. The country is also becoming a well-established destination for sex-tourists.
In this guide, we focus on the culture of sex in Indonesia as well as looking at the law and regulations on prostitution, pornography and homosexuality. We also take a look at the latest porn viewing trends and bring you the top classified personals sites for dating in Indonesia.
Sex in Indonesia
As we said earlier, Indonesia is a vast country; it has one of the longest coastlines in the world (second only to Canada) and incorporates islands many people believe are separate countries including parts of Borneo, Java, New Guinea, Sumatra and Komodo. It has an ethnically diverse population with over 300 distinct groups being represented as well as having a strong link to Europe, being the former jewel in the crown of the Dutch colonies. It would be difficult to represent the culture of sex in a nation a tenth of the size but in Indonesia, this is even harder to summarize. However, we have sourced some facts and figures that can help us unravel how sex is perceived in Indonesian society in general.
Despite Indonesia being a secular state, the country is home to the largest population of Muslims on the planet with around 90% (or 227 million) of Indonesians following the religion. With a long tradition of tolerance, the country has seen a rise in the influence of more conservative Islamic groups, particularly in its politics. The impact of this can largely be seen in the development of legislation with the most prominent feature of this being the anti-pornography laws introduced in 2008 (see Adult Industry in Indonesia, below). However, the subject of prostitution has yet to be addressed by these groups and is still not technically against the law.
Adultery is technically illegal in Indonesia, but legislation is rarely used for prosecution. However, at a provincial level, extra-marital affairs have been targeted with hotels being an area of focus, particularly during Ramadan. If found guilty, the accused could face up to nine months in prison.
In fact, pre-marital and extra-marital sex are not considered morally acceptable in Indonesia with almost a quarter of the population believing that more public awareness is needed on abstinence before marriage and more than half (54%) believing that abstaining before marriage is a priority.
Speaking of marriage, in rural parts of Indonesia arranged marriages are still common and most women are wed before they are 20. In the urban population this is less common and love marriages are more the norm. However, divorce is reasonably common and, unusually for a Muslim country, women may instigate the divorce proceedings. In 2009, the BBC reported on a surge in the country’s divorce rates which rose in a decade from an average of 20,000 a year to more than 200,000. As women become more aware of their rights and general improvements in gender equality, it would seem more women are choosing independence in Indonesia. In fact, statistics from 2013 showed that nearly 70% of the divorces cases conducted in Indonesia were filed by women.
Interestingly, the number of divorce cases citing the grounds of polygamy as a factor have also increased. Polygamy (or the practice of a man having multiple wives) is legal in Indonesia but is becoming less common.
According to the Durex Global Sex Survey The average age at which most Indonesians receive their first sex education is 14.4 years old which is later than the global average of 13.2 years. It is the same as in Singapore and Thailand but earlier than in Vietnam (16), India (15.6) and China (15.1).The youngest average age was recorded in Germany where children receive this important education at an average of 11.3 years old. Most Indonesians believe that aged 14.4 is too late and, on average, the population believe that this should be started two years earlier (12.4).
In keeping with the stats on sex education it is not a surprise that the same report shows that the average age for losing your virginity in Indonesia is 19.1 years old only months behind people in Vietnam (19.6 years old) and India (19.8 years old). These three countries were found to have the oldest average age for first-time sex.
Correlating with this is the average number of sexual partners recorded in the survey. Indonesia props up the bottom end of the table with a figure of just 5.1 (India was 3 and Vietnam was 3.2). All three were below the global average of 9 with Turkey taking the top spot with 14.5 partners (Australia, New Zealand and Iceland were next with 13.3, 13.2 and 13 respectively).
Despite the country’s reputation for having poor sex education, only 45% of people were having unprotected sex in Indonesia which is just shy of the global average of 47%. However, this may also be due to the Draconian laws on the availability of contraception which is only available to married women in Indonesia, with the consent of their husband.
Despite the rate of HIV and STIs among sex workers being high, 95% of the general population surveyed for this report did not report ever having had a sexually transmitted infection.
But, what about the Indonesian’s views on sex?
The Durex report goes on to detail global attitudes and stats on sex with Indonesians being asked whether they agreed with the following statements:
|I’m happy with my sex life.
|I’m open minded about my sex life.
|I’m confident about asserting my needs with my partner.
|I like experimenting with different sex aids.
|I like to be inspired and look for new ideas.
|I do not have a high sex drive.
|I wish I had sex more frequently.
|My sex life is monotonous.
We can see from the above that whilst very few Indonesians consider they don’t have a high sex drive, they are less likely than most to assert their needs in the bedroom or experiment with sex toys. Interestingly, of all the nations polled in this survey, Indonesians were the least likely to buy sex aids like vibrators and massagers. 34% would not buy either of these items which was even ahead of Thailand (33%) where sex toys are illegal. They are also one of the least satisfied nations with their sex lives although they do not believe them to be monotonous.
When asked if they had ever had one of the following sexual experiences, Indonesians responded as follows:
|Hong Kong 75%
|One Night Stand
Indonesians were ranked one of the lowest nations when it comes to frequency of sex clocking up a figure of just 77 times per year vs the global average of 103 times. This was similar to neighbors in Singapore (73), Malaysia (83) and Vietnam (87).
And finally, when it comes to where Indonesians are having sex, they showed an equally low appetite for unusual locations. These are the top ranked locations by popularity:
- Toilets – 38% of Indonesians vs 39% (global average).
- In the car – 35% of Indonesians vs 36% (global average).
- In their parent’s bedroom – 18% of Indonesians vs 36% (global average).
- At work – 13% of Indonesians vs 15% (global average).
- In front of a camera – 12% of Indonesians vs 12% (global average).
- In an alleyway – 9% of Indonesians vs 14% (global average).
- At a park – 7% of Indonesians vs 31% (global average).
- On the beach – 7% of Indonesians vs 28% (global average).
- In a club – 6% of Indonesians vs 12% (global average).
- In the garden – 5% of Indonesians vs 22% (global average).
- At school – 5% of Indonesians vs 10% (global average).
- At a party – 4% of Indonesians vs 27% (global average).
- On public transport – 3% of Indonesians vs 7% (global average).
- On an aeroplane – 2% of Indonesians vs 2% (global average).
There are no surprises that variety was not important to most Indonesian people with 43% of people never having had sex in any of the above locations.
Overall, the general trend of the cultural importance of sex is one of conservatism and cultural tradition. Indonesians could be considered to have a traditional view on marriage, sex and relationships whilst also being largely tolerant of others. In some ways, the country could be seen to have a repressive attitude towards sex with censorship in pornography (see below) and restrictions on contraception. The legal situation for the LGBTQ community is also quite restrictive (see LGBTQ in Indonesia, below). On the other hand, there are many liberal areas of Indonesia where these conservative and traditional views are not widely held.
As we started this section, categorizing a nation of this size is not easy and there are definite differences between urban populations and rural communities as well as social, religious and generational divides, not to mention those split on gender and sexuality.
Adult Industry in Indonesia
Pornography and pornographic acts are banned in Indonesia under Law No. 44 of 2008 on Pornography. The regulations state that engaging in pornography or ‘pornoaction’ is against the law and can be punishable. The term ‘pornoaction’ was a phrase invented for this bill and includes, but is not limited to, acts such as kissing in public, sunbathing in bikinis and even women showing their shoulders or navel.
The bill met with a lot of opposition when it was first proposed in 2006 including Muslim religious leaders who believed that the Act was an attempt by the government to limit the people’s freedom.
The law was challenged at a Constitutional Court in 2010 but the ban was upheld.
Despite the law being in place, there was no initial widespread censorship on pornography and content remained widely available. The legislation at first appeared to be an expression of morality rather than a method for policing it but there does seem to be an appetite for change from within government. The legislation seems to be rising to the surface with over a million websites being blocked in 2011/2012 and even Facebook. Google and Twitter were threatened in 2017 with being blocked unless they filtered content for its citizens. A swathe of 477 websites, including Tumblr, were also blocked in 2016
There are concerns over the legislation threatening civil liberties in Indonesia, including freedoms of speech and there is an ongoing war of words between supporters of the Bill and those that object to this kind of censorship.
It certainly can’t have helped that the MP responsible for the anti-porn measures resigned for watching porn whilst in office. The minister allegedly opened a malicious link in an email which led him to some explicit images.
Perhaps as a result of the laws or simply because there are much better studios producing quality content in the region, Indonesia itself does not have a well-developed adult industry. There are plenty of amateurs producing their own pornography as well as porn stars from Indonesia who have traveled abroad to find work.
According to the Durex Global Sex Survey, 44% of Indonesians own pornography and 33% own erotic literature; for comparison, the global averages were 41% and 22% respectively.
Top Indonesian Adult Industry Stars
Perhaps the most well-known adult movie star from Indonesia is Laura Gemser. Now 68 years old, Gemser worked in Italy and is highly regarded for her starring role in the Black Emmanuelle series. She worked with Bruno Mattei and Joe D’Amato on a number of high-profile porno films in the 1970s but still ranks well on the global porn stage clocking up over 48 million video views.
Another popular porn star from Indonesia is Tia Tanaka. Although she is commonly thought of as being of mixed French and Vietnamese heritage, she was actually born in Indonesia. Full name, Dawn Ann Nguyen, she has over 180 credits to her name and has worked with studios like Vivid, Club Jenna, Digital Sin and Elegant Angel. She was active between 2005 and 2014 and was known for her teen flicks, creampies and interracial scenes.
Angelina Lee, born in Makassar in 1984 has just a dozen credits to her name but is a popular star from Indonesia nevertheless. She worked with BangBros and Lethal Hardcore as well as a couple of other studios to produce some very high-quality performances. She was best known for her oral action and most of her scenes result in some spectacular facials.
According to XVideos, the top ten porn stars from Indonesia (by video views and global rankings, ever) are as follows:
|Total Video Views
It is no surprise, given the laws on pornography, that some of the top stars in Indonesia are amateurs and do not use names but instead use ‘handles’.
Although known as being an American model, Jodi Ann Paterson was actually born in Balikpapan, Indonesia. She was a former beauty queen and was a Playboy model; in fact, she was Playmate of the Year in 2000.
Other adult industry stars of note from Indonesia, include:
- Julia Perez (aka ‘Jupe’), an actress, model and one-time political candidate. She was nominated for the FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World.
- Glamour model, Tiara Lestari.
- Cynthiara Alona, an actress, singer and glamour model.
- Bibie Julius, a glamour model and DJ.
- Sarah Ardhelia, an adult model and dancer.
- Thiya Vha Nesya, an adult and glamour model.
- Bella Shofie, glamour model.
Prostitution Laws in Indonesia
Prostitution, strictly speaking, is not against the law in Indonesia but is largely considered a moral crime. There is no specific legislation which addresses the sex trade but is often interpreted as a ‘crime against decency’.
Historically, Indonesia has always had a sex industry but which became more widespread during the early 19th century when the islands were under Dutch Colonialism. Interracial marriages and relations were discouraged (and sometimes forbidden) by both the Indonesians and Dutch leaders. It followed that local women were ‘volunteered’ for hire to gratify the Europeans. By 1852, the colonial government had begun to establish a form of regulation by instigating regular health checks on sex workers including a test for syphilis.
During the Japanese occupation of the country during the Second World War, comfort women were selected from existing brothels to service the Japanese army. In the period following WWII, an increase in migration from rural communities to the cities led to an increase in the number of working women.
In present day Indonesia, prostitution is wide-spread and is tolerated across the country; in some areas the industry is even (unofficially) regulated with some brothel complexes being under the management of the local authorities. UNAIDS estimates that there are around quarter of a million prostitutes working across Indonesia but many believe this figure to be low with some believing the true number to be almost double this. This is particularly true if you include the high number of male prostitutes that work in the industry who often don’t get included in the official reports. Destinations like Bali have become very popular hotspots for female sex tourists (particularly those from Japan and Australia). You can find out more about the gigolos of Bali from our sister site, Red Light Australia.
In general, the practice of paying for sex, whilst often viewed as unethical and un-virtuous, is overlooked by the locals and the authorities. The exception to this is where other crimes are committed such as drugs-related offences, trafficking and under-age sexual activity. Avoid these and your experience of prostitution in Indonesia should be trouble-free….as long as you use protection.
HIV rates among sex workers in Indonesia is high and the lack of health control and sex education is blamed for this rising. It is estimated that around two in five customers do not use protection when they visit a prostitute.
Prostitution is more common in the urban areas of Indonesia, particularly those that receive a good deal of international tourism and the sex industry is thought to be worth an estimated $2.25 billion per year to the country. In fact, the red-light district of Jakarta offers some bizarre and unique services including a ‘cat-bath’ where you can pay to be licked head to toe or enjoy a hands-free massage where the service is performed using the masseurs breasts alone.
As in many countries in Asia, the prime motivation for many women working in the industry is one of economics and, according to some reports, the average prostitute earns between $784 and $1,120 per month. Some earn more than $3,000 per month and can charge up to $350 for their services. However, the price of sex does vary a lot across the country and can depend on where you go as to how expensive the rates become. Street prostitutes can charge as little as $5 for their services and you can also find cheap sex in the brothels, adult massage parlors and sex clubs. As ever, escorts can be a lot more expensive, particularly if you are looking to hire a Western courtesan.
Indonesia: Porn Viewing Trends
Every year, the adult industry giants, Pornhub, release statistical data on the use of their website, detailing different countries porn viewing trends. Although Indonesia has yet to go fully under the microscope, they do pop up on the occasional item of research.
It is no surprise that the vast majority of visitors to Pornhub from Indonesia are of the Millennial Generation. Internet use across the country is only 50.4% and a decade ago was only 7.9%. Therefore the figure of 74% of the audience to the popular porn site being aged 18-34 is more indicative of the access to the technology than being just about their appetite for porn.
Big breasts are a popular search within Indonesia with the country ranking as one of those where the audience is most interested (along with Nigeria, Finland and Canada). You’d think that most porn fans would be a fan of big tits but, apparently, they are not so popular in South Korea, India or Egypt.
The term ‘Dad’ or ‘Daddy’ is also a popular one in Indonesia and they are ranked as the 3rd country where this is common (ranked by proportion of searches within each country), behind Philippines and Thailand.
Lastly, in 2014, Pornhub ran some analysis on Boobs & Butts and Indonesian traffic to the site showed a penchant for pregnant women. This is nothing new for Southeast Asia where expectant women garner a lot of interest. It is the most popular term in the Solomon Islands and Indonesia ranked 12th, behind Lesotho and Papua New Guinea.
According to SimilarWeb, the top adult websites viewed from within Indonesia, are:
- XNXX – 15th most popular site in the country and receiving more visitors per month than WhatsApp or WordPress.
- XVideos – 28th most popular site in the country, more frequently hit than JobStreet and Samsung.
- Pornhub – 31st most popular site in the country, receiving more visitors than Google and Pinterest.
- XHamster – 50th most popular site in Indonesia.
After these, RedTube is the next most popular website in the Adult category for Indonesia.
Top Indonesian Porn
In 2015, Indonesian porn was gaining a lot of attention in India and, according to Pornhub’s Insights, the term ‘Indonesia’ was the 10th most popular. Interestingly, the North Koreans are also more likely to be searching for Indonesia porn from this popular tube hosting site and the term was ranked the 8th most popular for 2017.
So what kind of Indonesian porn are the Indians and North Koreans watching?
Well, the vast majority of porn coming out of Indonesia is amateur footage with some live cam action being captured too. For this reason, the best places to find Indonesian porn is via the mainstream porn tube hosting sites, such as:
All of these sites seem to have content which is tagged with the more popular phrases which include ‘Indonesian Pussy’, ‘Indonesian MILF’ or ‘Indonesian Maid’.
There are also some curated Asian porn sites which seem to have quite a few Indonesian porn clips and although most of these can be a mixed bag with Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and Japanese stars, they’re not a bad place to start. Yellow Spinners and My & My Asian are two good sites but both are premium services and their content is not exclusive.
LGBTQ in Indonesia
Unlike in neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia does not have any sodomy laws which criminalize homosexual activities and same-sex relationships are legal in most of the country. There are exceptions to this such as in the province of Aceh and the City of Palembeng in southern Sumatra.
Despite there being no legislation to prohibit same-sex activities, the practice is publicly disapproved of and there is no legal framework in place to protect members of the LGBTQ community against discrimination, hate crimes and homophobic attacks (verbal, physical or otherwise).
The country, though a Muslim one, enjoys a reputation internationally as being somewhat moderate but more conservative political groups are beginning to gain prominence. As recently as 2016, the Human Rights Watch were forced to issue comments to the Indonesian authorities on their failure to protect the LGBTQ community against homophobia and hate speech.
Pro-LGBTQ rights activists face opposition from both the public as well as the authorities when it comes to campaigning for improvements in the legal recognition of their relationships and lifestyles. In fact, the police have used the anti-pornography laws (see above) as a pretext for launching raids and arrests on members of the LGBTQ community and there are fears that homosexuals are being deliberately targeted.
The situation is worse in the autonomous province of Aceh where in January 2018, police raided a location where transgendered women were known to be working. The police ransacked the premises and tortured the women they found there, shaving their heads and stripping them of their bras before parading them in the street where they were further subjected to verbal abuse.
This is slightly unusual as the transgendered community have historically been more accepted in Indonesia than homosexuals. Known as waria, these ‘shemales’ have long been part of the Indonesian culture and can officially change their gender once they have completed sex-reassignment surgery and following approval from a judge. However, cross-dressing is culturally taboo.
In February 2018, the Indonesian authorities put forward plans to criminalize homosexuality and with the full support of all 10 political parties in the country is expected to be enshrined in law soon.
According to a 2017 ILGA survey, 32% of Indonesians support the statement that gay, lesbian and bisexual people should have the same rights as heterosexuals whilst 37% agreed that transgender people should too. On the other hand, a similar number (38%) of Indonesians believe that people who are in same-sex relationships should face criminal charges.
Overall, Indonesia is considered to be the most homophobic country in Asia with the exception of Malaysia. Unfortunately, this situation seems only to be getting worse as what was once a tolerant, liberal minded and moderate Muslim country succumbs to the more conservative views of Islam. It should be noted that other religious groups in the country including the Roman Catholic Church, whilst condemning same-sex marriage, have shown their support for the movement of LGBTQ rights and have called for an end to discrimination.
In summary, the LGBTQ community of Indonesia has no legal rights against any form of discrimination nor is there any recognition in law of same-sex relationships. It is not considered a safe place to be an ‘out’ member of the community.
Despite all of this, Jakarta and some other cities in Indonesia do have a relatively vibrant and active gay scene with some visible clubs and bars.
Top Classified/Personals Sites in Indonesia
According to SimilarWeb, the most popular five dating websites used from within Indonesia, are:
It is no surprise that the globally prominent app, Tinder receives a good ranking but the word on the streets of Jakarta and Bali is that there are a few more popular apps being used, particularly when it comes to finding more casual encounters. Setipe is gaining a lot of users and beetalk is also quite in vogue too. WeChat, with the useful ‘People Nearby’ feature is also proving to be a handy tool; however, it is being commonly used to find prostitutes rather than dates but, hey, that’s modern life, huh?
Indonesian Cupid, Jodoh Kristen and Ayonikah are all more serious dating websites than either Tinder or Badoo, so where do Indonesian singles, expats and tourists go when they are looking for a more casual date?
Sadly, the Indonesian government has blocked a lot of online dating apps within the country so there are not that many sites or apps which offer hook-ups.
Fortunately, there are a couple of websites that offer English-speaking visitors the opportunity to hook up, either with locals or other tourists or expats.
They certainly don’t offer the same level of encounters that you can expect from other Asian countries like Thailand or Japan, but they may offer some opportunities for casual dating. This is more likely if you are in Jakarta or popular Western tourist resorts, like Bali
Some of these sites are offered on a ‘freemium’ model where you can register an account for free but where the best experience is gained by paying a subscription fee. However, Locanto is a free classifieds site.
Featured image via Flickr.