JAKARTA, Indonesia — Chastity belts, which went out of fashion with knights in shining armor and damsels in distress, are making a comeback in the massage parlors of East Java.
Eager to prevent any hanky-panky between masseuses and their clients, several massage parlors in the hill resort town of Batu are insisting that the women wear padlocks across the zippers of their work pants.
Franky Setiawan, owner of Doghado Massage Parlor, says he came up with the idea when men “bombarded” his staff with demands for sex after local authorities shut down the town’s brothels. In recent years, conservative Islamic values have gained influence in a society that has long enjoyed liberal freedoms, such as easy access to alcohol, gambling and the sex trade.
“We had a hard time rejecting this kind of client because they try over and over and over again, persuading our workers with their dangerously sweet words,” Setiawan said by phone earlier this month from Batu, explaining that he wanted his 14 masseuses to feel safe and morally upstanding, while protecting the massage industry’s image.
But Meutia Fardia Hatta Swasono, minister for women’s empowerment in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, calls the return of the chastity belt an affront to all females.
“It is not the right way to prevent promiscuity. It insults women as if they are the ones in the wrong,” she told reporters a few weeks ago. “It is not that we oppose the administration’s effort to uphold morality, but the problem is their way of treating masseuses as if they’re all committing prostitution.”