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Business Ethics:

The Effect of Changing the Legal status of Prostitution in Indonesia towards the
Ethical Side.

Anissa Rumiati

Magister Manajemen Universitas Indonesia

I.I Background
Prostitution is not a new issue, it has been around since years, decades and according to Governor
of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok), prostitution has been around since centuries ago, even
when prophets were still alive (Merdeka, 2015). Several countries have legalized prostitutions, one
country, such as Amsterdam even legalized the sex industry and makes it as a tourist attraction, and
the place is called Red light district, also known as Rossebuurt in Dutch. Yolanda van Doeveren the
man, who manages Amsterdams prostitution social programs, says, The district is regulated by
police officers, social workers, health workers, tax authorities and civil rights groups. A new girl
who appears in a window will be noticed in a matter of hours and must be able to show that shes
old enough and has approval to work (Sterling, 2014). However in Indonesia currently, the law
prohibits prostitution and any other sexual activity that is done by unmarried couple. Circa May
2015, A young prostitute, Deudeuh, also known as Tata Chubby was murdered, followed by an
unfolding truth regarding premium prostitution business industry, with famous Indonesian actress
as the main prostitute. Due to this the Governor of Jakarta, Ahok said, I think it is hard to legalized
prostitution, but the idea is that. If it is legal, I can know who are the inside man and even regulate
the supply side, I can control it all (CNN, 2015).
The law that prohibit the prostitution in Indonesia are as follow:

Pasal 296 KUHP :

Barang siapa dengan sengaja menyebabkan atau memudahkan perbuatan cabul oleh
orang lain dengan orang lain, dan menjadikannya sebagai pencarian atau kebiasaan,
diancam dengan pidana penjara paling lama satu tahun empat bulan atau pidana denda
paling banyak lima belas ribu rupiah.
Whomever intentionally causing or facilitating obscene acts by other people with other
people, and make it as a search or customs, shall be punished by imprisonment not
exceeding one year and four months or a maximum fine of fifteen thousand rupiahs

Pasal 42 ayat (2) Perda DKI Jakarta No. 8 Tahun 2007 tentang Ketertiban
Umum (Perda DKI 8/2007):

Setiap orang dilarang:


menyuruh, memfasilitasi, membujuk, memaksa orang lain untuk menjadi penjaja seks

b. menjadi penjaja seks komersial;


memakai jasa penjaja seks komersial.

Every person is prohibited from:

a. Ordering, facilitating, persuading, compelling others to become commercial sex workers;
b. Becoming commercial sex workers;
c. Using commercial sex workers service. "
Therefore according to this law, prostitution is still considered as an illegal activity in Indonesia.
This paper analyzes the effect of changing the legal status of prostitution and the ethical point of

2.1 Literature Review

John Danahers studies suggest the reason why people becoming prostitute:
a. Prostitution is well paid: According to Tribunnews (a newspaper media in Indonesia) interview
with one of the sex worker, Ayu, 24 years old in Kalimantan, a prostitute could earn
Rp.1,000,000.00 per-day (Tribun News, 2013). Yet, recently a big prostitution issue has spawned
into news and social media, the issue where many TV artist, talent and model is as a matter of fact
involved with premium prostitution industry could earn up to Rp. 200,000,000.00 per session.
As quoted from Edlund and Korn, Levitt and Venkateshs study of on-street prostitution (usually
the worst paid form) shows the fact that sex worker could earn up to four-times the minimum wage
while Premium prostitutes are able to earn several thousand pounds per job.
b. Lack of other options:
People who are unfortunate have financial needs and other needs that cause pressure are often
unable to afford decent jobs. Ayu, the local prostitution in Samarinda, It is okay if I work as a
prostitute, it is for my parent and also to send my younger siblings to school (Tribun News, 2013).
To Ayu, prostitution is a readily available option that meets her financial needs. Therefore people
often become a prostitute because lack of other options while having a needs that causes pressure.
c. A mean of better end: By being a prostitute, one can achieve a more desirable end, more like
trade off for better future. Not only well paid, prostitution also offers flexible working hours and a
great bargaining tool to achieve better end. The most famous example of this case is, Dr. Brooke
Magnanti who became a call girl in order to fund her PhD studies (Secret Diary of London Call
Girl, 2015). In conclusion, by being a prostitute, one can achieve a more desirable end, more like
trade off for better future.
2.2 Effect of legalizing prostitution
Ahok believes that changing the legal status of prostitution industry would reduce crime. However,
Young Cho, Dreher and Neumayer stated, legalized sex industries actually result in increased
trafficking to meet the demand for women to be used in the legal sex industries and also wherever
prostitution is legalized, trafficking to sex industry marketplaces in that region increases (Young
Cho, Dreher, & Neumayer, 2013). Also according to John Danaher prostitute often have
psychological problem due to the nature of the work, prostitute tends to get addicted to drug
because of the feelings of shame and guilt contracted from the work performed and increased rates
of suicide. Not only psychological problem, Danaher also stated that prostitution is a high risk job,
meaning it is more likely to get abused, attacked and contract sexual transmitted diseases (Danaher,

2013). These arguments is also supported by Melissa Farley stating that physical, emotional, and
social harms are not decreased by legalization or decriminalization of prostitution (Farley, 2004).
2.3 Ethical point of view
Utilitarianism approach
As defined by Richard de George in Business Ethics book, Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that
holds that an action is right if it produces or if tends to produce, the greatest amount of good for the
greatest number of people affected by the action, otherwise the action is ethically wrong (DeGeorge, 1990). In order to evaluate actions from a moral point of view, Richard de George also
proposes hedonistic utilitarianism; it is a concept that holds the basic human values are pleasure and
pain (De-George, 1990). Given the previous studies conducted from previous researchers above,
shows that the legalization of prostitution increases trafficking, does not eliminate physical,
physiological harm and health risk, therefore does not fulfill the utilitarianism view thus, unethical.
Reason duty and moral law ethical approach
Deontology comes from the word Greek, Deon which translate to Duty (Ionnou & Professor
Campisi, 2009). The deontology views how an action is considered, as ethical not from looking at
the total of the outcome but from the fact that how the action fit the moral law (Ionnou & Professor
Campisi, 2009). Unlike the utilitarianism that views an action is ethical only judging from the
outcomes of an action. According to Iounnou et al (2009), a person has several duties including:
duty for oneself, duties for other , duties for animal and duties for the body and Iounnou also stated
that the most important duty is the duty to oneself because according to German philosopher,
Immanuel Kant, if a person is unable to fulfill the duty to oneself then this persons ability to fulfill
other duties is questioned. Iounnou also stated that by being prostitute, one lose the freedom and
giving up their self for money. This argument is supported by Immanuel Kant who also stated to
let ones person out on hire and to surrender it to another for the satisfaction of his sexual desire in
return for money is the depth of infamy. Therefore by being prostitute, the person failed to fulfill
the duty to oneself thus unable to proceed fulfilling the other duties yet, unethical.

Universalism is a belief developed from Immanuel Kant under the deontological approach; it is
about moral judgments that stating if an action can be applied to anyone, anywhere and anytime. As
quoted from Iounnou et al, Immannuel Kant stated, If the intent of the action can without selfcontradiction be universalized, it is morally possible; if it cannot be so universalized without
contradicting itself, it is morally impossible (Ionnou & Professor Campisi, 2009). Therefore
prostitution also fails the universalism view because not all people want to be prostitute also many
religions detest the idea.

3. Conclusion
From the utilitarian point of view, legalizing prostitution does not bring the greatest good for
greater number of people because according to previous researchers, prostitution does not
eliminates harms yet creating additional harm towards the prostitute physically and psychologically.
Previous studies also founds out that the number of human trafficking in terms of sex slavery and
illegal immigrant in the country where the prostitution had been legalized, such as United Kingdom
is increasing.
From the deontological side it is also unethical because by becoming prostitute, one has failed to
fulfill duty to one self and therefore fail to fulfill other duties. Also, it fails to fulfill the universality
side because not everyone would agree to become prostitute, many religions also detest the idea.
Especially in Indonesia whereas most of the citizens are moslem.

Sterling, T. (2014, 02 06). New Amsterdam Museum Tells the History of the Red Light District.
Retrieved 05 23, 2015, from Skift: http://skift.com/2014/02/06/new-amsterdam-museum-

Tribun News. (2013, 10 13). Pengakuan PSK: Penghasilan Sejuta Semalam, Berstatus
Mahasiswi. Retrieved from Tribunnews:

Merdeka. (2015, 04 17). Tanggapi kasus Deudeuh, Ahok kembali wacanakan bangun lokalisasi.
Retrieved 05 10, 2015, from Merdeka: http://www.merdeka.com/jakarta/tanggapi-kasus-

CNN. (2015, 04 27). Ahok Siap Debat Terbuka Soal Rencana Lokasi Khusus Prostitusi. Retrieved
05 23, 2015, from CNN: http://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20150427221013-20-

Secret Diary of London Call Girl. (2015, 05 27). Secret Diary of London Call Girl. Retrieved from

Young Cho, S., Dreher, A., & Neumayer, E. (2013, 03). Does legalized prostitution increase
human trafficking? LSE Research Online .

Danaher, J. (2013). Prostitution and the Ethics of Sexual Labour. Retrieved from Academia:

Farley, M. (2004). Bad for the Body, Bad for the Heart: Prostitution Harms Women Even if
Legalized or Decriminalized. Retrieved from http://vaw.sagepub.com/content/10/10/1087
De-George, R. T. (1990). Business Ethics. McMillan.

Ionnou, D., & Professor Campisi. (2009, 10 12). The Utilitarian and Kantian Views on
Prostitution. Retrieved 05 29, 2015, from Scribd: