Batam facing difficulties in safe sex campaign
The Riau Islands’ tourism agency is facing difficulties in familiarizing sex workers with "safe sex" due to the non-existence of a red light district - thereby localizing such workers - and strict local cultural and religious values.
The agency head, Guntur Sakti, said that the agency had a local regulation on tourism that could act as a legal basis to create an integrated tourism area, including red light district.
“If we have a red light area, we can minimize the spread of HIV/AIDS and easily campaign about safe sex to the workers and customers,” he said.
It would be difficult for such an area to materialize as it depended on the awareness of regional leaders, let alone local and religious values that considered campaigning on the use of condoms as tantamount to supporting free sex, he said.
The Batam AIDS Prevention Commission (KPA) recorded that there were 287 people with HIV, 127 people with AIDS and that 28 people had died because of the disease in the first half of 2012.
Batam KPA chairman Pieter Pureklolong said that only several entertainment businessmen and local stakeholders were aware and consistently supported the campaign to use condoms, although the commission had regularly informed and trained them.
He added that funds from the local administration were also far from enough to support the safe sex campaign, and that such a campaign was not only important for the citizens, but could also save the tourism business in Batam.
Singapore recently issued a travel warning to its citizens after finding out a Singaporean had contracted HIV/AIDS after visiting the island. “Singapore is a small country but it is very protective of its citizens,” Guntur said.
He added that such a warning would significantly affect the number of Singaporean tourists in the few months ahead. Singapore is one of the highest contributors of foreign tourists to the island. (cor/iwa)