JAKARTA Police on Indonesia's resort island of Bali detained 28 people this week in a crackdown on "beach gigolos," who scout for foreign female tourists, officials said on Tuesday.
The raids began on Monday after the release of a trailer for a documentary on Bali's 'Kuta cowboys', the muscular and tanned Kuta beach surfers who develop short-term romantic relationships with foreign women in return for gifts.
'Cowboys in Paradise' follows the trials and tribulations of several beach boys, their families and their female patrons.
The documentary's Singapore-based director, Amit Virmani, said he found the arrests deplorable.
"A witch hunt for men with tanned and muscular bodies on the beach is the last thing anybody wants," he said.
"The film is about one small aspect of life in a holiday destination. It does not suggest that the cowboys are all that Bali has to offer."
Gede Wijaya, a spokesman for the local council area which includes Kuta beach, said that 28 people had been detained for not having proper identification or "for disturbing the peace or security of our beaches."
Wijaya said the raids were part of routine checks and not linked to the documentary, but local media reported that security officials were targeting tanned and muscular men.
"As has been reported, gigolos have indeed been rounded up," Putu Suardika, a spokesman for the governor of Bali, said in a telephone text message to Reuters. Virmani said he believed the beach gigolo phenomena was not unique to Bali, which is also known for its Hindu temples, volcanoes, and terraced rice fields.
"Moreover, the cowboys do not pose a threat to tourists. What happens between consenting adults is their own business," he said.
"I am genuinely worried for the safety of the people in the film and the boys on the beach."
(Editing by Sara Webb)