APSN Banner

OnlyFans model's arrest sparks debate on Indonesia's strict anti-pornography law amid reform calls

South China Morning Post - January 30, 2024

Johannes Nugroho – The arrest of an Indonesian social media celebrity for her alleged involvement in an adult film ring has again sparked debate over the Muslim-majority country's strict anti-pornography laws amid calls for legal and social reform.

Fransiska Candra Novitasari, a 25-year-old model and content creator also known as Siskaee, was arrested by Jakarta police at her flat in Yogyakarta on January 25. She and 10 others had been named suspects in the production of an adult film that was released online.

The production, replication, distribution and downloading of adult material are all illegal in Indonesia under the country's 2008 anti-pornography law. Violations of the law can carry a prison sentence of up to 12 years.

Siskaee was previously jailed for 10 months in 2022 for content related to her OnlyFans account.

Police said Siskaee was arrested last week after ignoring two previous summonses for questioning. Her lawyer protested against the arrest, arguing Sisakee had lodged a pre-trial motion at the South Jakarta District Court questioning the legality of her status as a suspect.

"The police should have waited for the verdict of the court before making the arrest," said Siskaee's lawyer, Tofan Agung Ginting.

Police, however, said they had enough evidence to proceed with the case and that Siskaee would be detained for 20 days while she was interrogated.

Siskaee's arrest is part of a police crackdown on a South Jakarta "adult film ring" that has been the subject of intensive investigation by law enforcement agencies, who have offered up frequent updates to feed frenzied coverage by the local media.

"Our aparat [law enforcement agencies] are always in their element when coming down hard on small-time 'morality' offenders like porn sites," Linda, a 20-year-old Indonesian adult content creator, said sarcastically.

Linda, who asked that her real name not be used, said the Indonesian police performed their duty with "lightning speed" and "high efficiency" when investigating sex-related scandals.

"A far cry from [the way they tackle] other more mundane crimes. A friend of mine reported his car stolen two years ago and it's still missing!"

Linda is one of many "faceless" Indonesian adult film stars who peddle their nude photos and short videos online through various anonymous third parties. Their job is to promote subscriber-only adult Indonesian content on social media platforms, particularly X, formerly known as Twitter.

"I usually cover my face when exposing myself on camera, of course, same like the others, because showing my real face would both land me in jail and earn me social stigma," Linda explained.

Linda said she first decided to become an adult model when her parents' business failed and they could no longer support her university tuition fees a year ago.

She could make between 6 million rupiah (US$379) and 15 million rupiah a month from her work as an adult model, an amount she said she could not have earned working "more conventional jobs".

"It's creative work that is in demand. People need entertainment and I'm just here to provide it," she said with a hint of defiance.

Satria Purnama, a Yogyakarta-based photographer and cinematographer, said there was a huge demand for locally produced adult entertainment among Indonesians.

"Local porn, though strictly speaking illegal, is easily found on apps like Bigo and Ometv where people can pay to view adult material," he said.

He insisted it made no sense to outlaw the production of adult material when it continued to be made regardless of the ban.

"It's not about Eastern values versus allegedly imported Western promiscuity," said Satria, referring to the way pornography is often framed in Indonesia. "Asian countries like Japan and Thailand have sizeable porn industries that are regulated and provide employment and revenues for the state, too."

But Satria admitted it would be a long time before Indonesians could come to terms with porn as "a fact of life".

"The dominant religious narrative governing the discourse over porn is still strong."

The Indonesian government has long waged a moral crusade against pornography, particularly on the internet. Between 2016 and 2023, the country's Ministry of Communications and Informatics blocked access to 1.9 million websites with adult content, including popular general interest platforms such as Reddit and Vimeo.

A 2021 government study claimed 66.6 per cent of young men and 62.3 per cent of young women in Indonesia had "seen sexual acts online", creating a moral panic within the country.

The following year, authorities categorised "porn addiction" in the country as "having entered a critical stage" and required "government intervention to bring it under control".

In May 2023, Anwar Abbas, deputy chairman of Indonesian Ulema Council, the country's highest Islamic clerical body, urged authorities to step up their efforts in combating "lewdness" on the internet.

"We must take a firm approach in order to save the future of our children from immorality and debauchery," he said.

But not all Islamic leaders take such a hardline approach. Progressive cleric and pluralism activist Aan Anshori said he was saddened by the "lack of maturity" among Indonesians in recognising "the need for adult entertainment".

"Unfortunately in Indonesia, religiosity is often equated with puritanism when it comes to sex and sexuality, rendering both subjects as taboos, including pornography," said Anshori, better known as Gus Aan.

The mindset of sex as an evil thing reviled by religion had encouraged the state and law enforcement agencies to feel the need to "prove their diligence" in tackling porn, Gus Aan noted, adding that it resulted in a sense of overkill in how Indonesian authorities dealt with sex-related cases.

"The impression given remains that they try to pander to public opinion and the religious establishment about sexual morality," he said.

Gus Aan called on Indonesian religious leaders to lead the way in moderating the nation's "obsessive" stigmatisation of anything sexual, saying the emphasis should be on how "coercive, non-consensual, manipulative and exploitative" sexual acts were wrong.

Indonesia's anti-pornography statutes are not only repressive but dangerous to sexual violence victims, argues social media influencer Indah G, who says the laws are in dire need of "technical upgrades to catch up with the times".

"In the digital age, many women find themselves victims of unauthorised distribution of their nude images, be it in cases of non-consensual intimate imagery [revenge porn] or blackmail," said the creator and host of The Indah G Show.

According to Indah G, under the current law, women victimised through pornography are categorised as parties to criminal acts. "Where is the justice in that?"

In April 2020, a 20-year-old woman was sentenced to three years and three months in jail after appearing in a group sex video clip that went viral on social media. Two of the male actors in the clip, however, received a lighter jail term of two years and nine months.

The woman, who claimed she had been coerced into taking part by her former husband and that she had been unaware it was being filmed, filed a petition with the constitutional court for a judicial review. It was later rejected by the court.

Indah said the law must also keep pace with advances in artificial intelligence (AI) that could generate realistic pornographic images of people based on their photos. "Anyone could become a victim of deep fake porn using AI. No one is safe."

Gus Aan agreed the current law needed revisions that would allow law enforcement agencies to focus on real crimes rather than act as morality police.

"As a nation, we have bigger priorities such as endemic corruption, which is a greater threat to society than people selling nude images and making porn on the internet could ever be."

Source: https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/lifestyle-culture/article/3250198/onlyfans-models-arrest-sparks-debate-indonesias-strict-anti-pornography-law-amid-reform-call