JAKARTA, (Reuters Life!) - Indonesian authorities plan to offer prostitutes in a key cigarette producing area jobs after it banned them from soliciting during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, a newspaper said on Friday.
Ramadan began in Indonesia on Thursday and officials in Java island’s Malang district plan to give the sex workers money to buy tobacco and paper and train them to produce hand-rolled cigarettes, which will be supplied to cigarette factories.
“We can’t ask them to stop operating during Ramadan without giving them an alternative means of income, as this is our moral obligation,” Ihwanul Muslimin, head of Malang’s public order police unit, was quoted as saying in the Jakarta Post.
Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country and during Ramadan, Muslims are required to abstain from eating, drinking -- as well as smoking and having sex -- from dawn to dusk.
And while there are no laws banning prostitution in Indonesia, it is considered a sin in Islam.
Malang is home to 321 large and small-scale cigarette factories. There are nearly 500 women working as sex workers in the district, data from the local health office shows.
Indonesia is the world’s fifth-largest tobacco market and its $10 billion tobacco industry provides jobs for 7 million people.