|Indonesia’s teen pimps rake in the cash
Chimoy, an Indonesian, flicks a lighter and draws a long drag until her cheeks collapse on the skinny Dunhill Mild, exhaling a column of smoke.
Her no-nonsense, tough-girl attitude projects the confidence of a woman in her 30s, yet she's only 17. Colorful angel and butterfly tattoos cover her skin, and she wears a black T-shirt emblazoned with a huge skull.
Chimoy _ by her own account and those of other girls and social workers _ is a pimp.
She got into the business when she was 14. A boyfriend's sister asked her to sell herself for sex, but she recruited a friend for the job instead. Then she established a pimping operation that grew to include a car, a house and some 30 working girls earning her up to US$3,000 a month.
“The money was too strong to resist,'' she says. “I was really proud to make money on my own.''
Two years ago in Indonesia, there were zero reports of child pimps like Chimoy who work as the boss with no adults behind the scenes. But the National Commission for Child Protection says 21 girls between 14 and 16 have been caught working as “mamis'' so far this year, and there are likely far more.
“The sickening thing is you see 11-year-olds, 12-year-olds, getting into these practices,'' says Leonarda Kling, Jakarta-based regional representative for Terre des Hommes Netherlands, a nonprofit working on trafficking issues. “You think: `The whole future of this child is just going to waste.'''
Chimoy, who has occasionally worked as a prostitute, and other teens in the sex industry interviewed for this story are identified by their nicknames. The Associated Press does not typically identify children who have been sexually abused.
Recently, in the eastern city of Surabaya, a 15-year-old was busted after escorting three other teens to meet clients at a hotel. Police say the girl employed 10 prostitutes _ including classmates, Facebook friends and even her older sister _ and collected up to a quarter of the US$50 to US$150 received for each call.
She conducted business over the popular BlackBerry Messenger service, earning up to US$400 a month, says Suparti, who uses one name like many Indonesians. The girl also met potential clients in malls or restaurants first to size them up.