|Teen madam hunts clients in Bandung
Indonesian teen pimp Chimoy was an only child living alone with her mom. She says her father was always gone, taking care of his four other wives. Polygamy is not uncommon in Muslim-majority Indonesia.
She recalls with a proud smile how she was always among the top students in her class, with a knack for business and cooking. At one point, she even opened a small shop selling traditional spicy crackers, AP reports.
In sixth grade, Chimoy was already running with a tough, older crowd. She was drinking and regularly using drugs by ninth grade, when she dropped out of school to manage the prostitution business full time. She got pregnant and had her first daughter at 15. The second baby came a year later.
Chimoy worked at karaoke bars, sometimes also selling herself, and racked up a list of clients. Money began to flow, and so did the drugs: She became hooked on crystal methamphetamine, known here as shabu shabu.
First she had three girls working for her, and later many more. Most were 14 to 17 years old, but some were in their 20s. All waited for her call to meet a growing list of local and foreign customers in the popular tourist town of Bandung.
“We rented a house to live together,'' she says. “It makes life easier to yell out: `Who wants this job?'''
Customers called or sent texts asking for a specific type of girl: tall or maybe light-skinned. Facebook was sometimes used to display photos of the girls, but Chimoy says no services were offered directly online.
Once, she says, a client paid around US$2,000 plus a BlackBerry and a motorbike in exchange for a girl's virginity. Chimoy pocketed US$500 from that deal.
Nuri, a chopstick-thin 16-year-old with long auburn-dyed hair, says Chimoy is family and never demands a cut of her earnings. The girls decide how much to pay her. A high school motorbike gang serves as their muscle.
“She's different from my previous adult pimps because money doesn't matter to her, but my safety means everything to her,'' adds 16-year-old Chacha, who started selling sex three years ago at a karaoke bar in western Indonesia.
“I feel very comfortable working with her,'' she says. “She is even a mother to us.''
Prostitution operations around the world are typically led by adults, but enterprising teens in many countries have figured out how to get money for sex on their own, says Anjan Bose of ECPAT International, a nonprofit global network that helps sexually abused children.
Well before smartphones and social media, school girls in Japan, often from middle-class families, left their numbers at phone booths near train stations for men to call. Today, Bose says children as young as 13 in the Dominican Republic earn more than their teachers selling sex for everything from free car rides to mobile phones. In Thailand and Philippines, teens go online and strip or perform sex acts in front of webcams, often for customers in Western countries. And a Canadian high school girl has been on trial this month for allegedly using Facebook to lure teens as young as 13 to have sex with men for money.
Today, Chimoy sits on the floor of a rented ground-floor room just big enough for a twin-size mattress. This is home since she lost nearly everything to her ravenous meth addiction.
Now, she says, she's given up drugs, and also wants to quit pimping. She's been working with Yayasan Bahtera for two years and says people there have given her the support she needs to start scaling back her operation.
The foundation offers skills and counseling. Cakrabuana, the program manager, says children who seek help are not judged or turned away, even if they are still involved in the business.
“I'm trying to get rid of my past,'' says Chimoy, who is raising her children with help from her mother. “I also explain to the girls, `Don't do this anymore. You can find another job. This job is risky.'''
But she still conducts business regularly with about five girls who are also in the program. They're trying to quit too, but when money runs low, they call Chimoy to arrange clients.
They are not hard to find. As Chimoy sits talking about her dream of becoming a pastry chef, a gangsta rap ringtone keeps interrupting, along with several text messages.
All are calls from men looking to book girls.
Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini contributed to this report from Jakarta, Indonesia.