The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Street singer, sidewalk vendor, three-in-one jockey. Kiky Sarandi has done it all since starting to live on the streets four years ago.
""I will do anything to make money to survive,"" said 19-year-old Kiky, who prefers to be called Brebes, the name of his hometown in Central Java.
When his mother moved to the Middle East to work as a domestic helper after the death of his father, Brebes started living with his aunt.
He said he eventually ended up on the streets of Jakarta after being sexually abused by his third grade teacher at junior high school.
""When my family found out about the abuse, they treated me differently and started to ignore me.
""I was ashamed so I decided to leave my hometown and here I am, living on the streets,"" he said.
""Now I'm not interested in talking about school. I am a bit sensitive about it because of the incident.""
Brebes gave up his dream of becoming an electrical engineer when he was forced to leave school and decided to move to Jakarta.
Amran, Brebes' friend, started living on the streets after his parents divorced and his father remarried without telling him.
By the age of eight, Amran had already experienced the hard life of a street child, working as a shoe polisher at the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta, where he was also sexually abused.
""When I was a shoe polisher one of my consumers sexually abused me and gave me Rp 3,000 (US 33 cents),"" said Amran, 19, who works odd jobs to make a living.
He said at the time he did not understand what had happened to him.
""I spent the money to play a pinball machine game,"" he said.
""But as time passed, I learned that the person had treated me badly.""
He said most of his friends living on the streets had been sexually abused by adults.
""In fact, some of them make a living out of it,"" he said.
Psychologist Tika Bisono said many street children fall victim to sexual abuse, with some deciding to make a living from it due to their economic situation.
""At first they are shocked, but eventually many see abuse as an economic opportunity because they can make money out of it,"" she said
Andri Cahyadi, chairman of the Jakarta Center for Street Children, runs a shelter for street children on Jl. Otista, East Jakarta.
He said networks exist around the capital which offer children to pedophiles.
""There are people who act as pimps, offering boys to pedophiles,"" he said.
He said many children decide to work in this industry as the economic benefits are higher than working on the streets.
Tika said the government and the National Commission for Child Protection do little to address this wide-spread social problem.
""If children are willing to do that and make a living out of it, can we still call it a problem?"" she asked.
""It seems cruel to say such a thing, but it is the truth.""
Tika said despite the fact the children enjoy the money, sexual abuse is a traumatic experience and they are likely to have a tendency for sexual deviation when they become adults.
""We must work together to overcome this problem now,"" Tika said. (05)