The education agency of the East Java district of Situbondo said on Thursday that it was investigating a group of students who allegedly formed an “arisan” (saving scheme) club so as to be able to afford commercial sex workers’ services.
Arisan is a widespread practice in Indonesia, where members of an arisan club gather regularly and each contributes a certain amount of money every time they meet. A drawing at each meeting sees the winner take home all the money, and each member can only win once.
Seven high-school students in Situbondo have allegedly been organizing an arisan for a year now. They are accused of collecting Rp 5,000 (50 cents) each time they meet for the monthly gathering, and the winner, who takes home Rp 35,000, allegedly puts the money toward a commercial sex worker’s services, according to Situbondo’s HIV/AIDS Mitigation Committee.
The case came to light after a sex worker told an officer with the committee about the students’ activities. It immediately drew local media and public attention.
“It has been going on for a year. We’ve tracked down the information [from the sex worker], and found out that the arisan has been organized once a month,” Heru Hartanto, the committee officer, told detiksurabaya.com on Thursday.
“They use their school pocket change to pay the arisan fees,” he added.
The secretary of the Situbondo Education Agency, Ateng Zaelani, said his office had formed a team to investigate the case.
“If that truly happened and we find the perpetrators, we’ll take action against them. From an educational aspect, we will counsel and educate them,” Ateng said.
He added that the agency would soon gather high school and vocational school principals across Situbondo to alert them of the situation in order to prevent their students from engaging in similar activities.