Shocking. This is probably what most Indonesians feel when hearing the arrest of a fifteen year old girl by the police in Surabaya for being a “mommy” (a term for a pimp in prostitution business). How can such a young girl become a pimp and run a prostitution business by providing escorts to adult men? This junior high school student was arrested after a month investigation by the police. She allegedly ran a prostitution ring consisting of her friends. She offered her services using phones and text messages. She organized a group of teenagers who are still students to offer escorts for men. She prices her friends at between Rp. 750,000 (US$5) to Rp. 1 million for short-time liaisons with adult men. For each transaction, she received a fee of Rp. 250,000.
This arrest opens our eyes that the problem of prostitution is an iceberg phenomenon. On the surface, prostitution looks uncovered and hidden but beyond the surface, it is an alarming threat to our young generation. It also proves the indication many have suspected that prostitution in Indonesia has involved teenage girls. The arrest in Surabaya some time ago also makes us concerned about the problem of trafficking. Very young girls get easily trapped in prostitution. What even surprises us is that we still do not believe that teenagers themselves organize and run the business. What makes them involved in this sex business?
Life today is more challenging than it used to be. With the rapid development in technology, those who can’t catch up with today’s world will be left behind. This is exactly what challenges teenagers of today. The challenge will be even more burdensome when it comes to economy. By nature, teen girls want to keep themselves update with the trends in the world. They want to look modern and stylish. In order to stay modern, they have to possess smart phones, gadgets, or update telecommunication devices to survive. When they can’t get these things, they will try to find ways to get them. One of the quickest ways to fulfill their needs is by being escort girl for adult men. This job is easy and brings quick money they want. Moreover, the demand is high, especially in big cities like Jakarta and Surabaya.
Peer pressure also plays an important role for their involvement in prostitution. Competition among teenagers is very tight now. Every teenager wants to look better than the others. They want to become leaders among their peers. To look better and different from others they have to keep up date with the current trends. They have to have fancy dresses, current hairdos, latest smart phones, and other accessories. All of these require money. For those coming from rich families, they can afford to get these things. However, those from poor families have to find ways to equip them with the current trend. Of course, they will not get this from their parents. That is why they “sell” bodies to get their wants.
Life style is probably the most important factor that makes teen girls involve in prostitution business. Consumerism and hedonism are two main causes of teen’s life style today. Teenagers are individuals who are looking for their identities. They always look up and seldom look down. They are looking for role models. Usually their role models are celebs who have glamour lives. Going to malls, having meals in fancy restaurants, and having up-to-date necessities are the dreams of every teenager. These things make them become obsessed and willing to sacrifice everything to make their dreams come to reality. Without money, they won't be able to realize their dreams and wants. That’s why they involve themselves in prostitution in order to earn quick money to materialize their dreams.
For teenage girls, keeping update with the trend is important. With smart phones, fancy dresses, and money in their hands, they can stay update with the time. If their parents cannot afford to provide their needs, they are willing to sell themselves in exchange for money. In addition, those who lack of parents’ attention and affection will find it difficult to cope with today’s world. Therefore, teen prostitution is mostly triggered by three main factors: economy, peer pressure, and life style.