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Indonesian minister to probe reported Saudi prostitution

Kyodo - February 6, 1997

Jakarta – The Indonesian minister for women's affairs, Mien Sugandhi, will visit Saudi Arabia to investigate reports of Indonesian women working as prostitutes in the country, political sources said Thursday.

Mien will also go to Malaysia to inspect the working conditions of Indonesian women there, the sources said.

"Not only tens but hundreds of Indonesian women have been working as prostitutes (in Saudi Arabia)," Mien said, citing information presented in a meeting Thursday with President Suharto.

According to the reports she received, Indonesian prostitutes in Saudi Arabia come from poor villages and most of them are under 20 years old, Mien said.

During her Malaysian visit, Mien wants to follow up on reports that Indonesian Muslim women, working for ethnic Chinese employers, are experiencing discrimination for religious reasons, she said.

Some of the problems include being asked to serve pork, which is forbidden under Islamic law, or being prevented from performing daily Muslim prayer services, the minister said.

Mien told reporters there are 185,000 Indonesian female workers in Malaysia.