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Geopolitics

Jakarta's Red Light District Exposes Indonesia's Growing HIV Problem

The world's largest Muslim country is slow to embrace measures to prevent the spread of HIV. And that's bad news for prostitutes in the capital city.

A World AIDS Day rally in Jakarta
A World AIDS Day rally in Jakarta
Clemens Markus

JAKARTA — Diane Sukagoni’s shift begins at 9 p.m. Every evening the 24-year-old woman sits in her room in one of the cafés in northern Jakarta and waits for customers. Today she'll provide sexual services to between three and five men, until about 4 a.m. Sukagoni is one of 20,000 prostitutes in Indonesia’s capital city. She remembers well the day she left her village in the West Java province to come here, how overwhelmed she was by this city of millions and how ashamed because she’d come to sell her body.

That was four years ago. But the Muslim woman says that if faced with the decision today, she would instead stay home with her two children and parents. At the time, it seemed like a good option, a way to make money quickly after her husband left her. And she was right about that much: She earns enough to support herself in Jakarta and send money home.

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Geopolitics

Our 'Emotional' Divide: How The Ukraine War Reveals A World Broken In Two

Russia's invasion has created a stark global divide: them and us. On one side are the countries refusing to condemn Moscow, with the West on the other. It's a dangerous split that could have repercussions far into the future.

Protesters against the war in Ukraine demonstrate in front of the Russian embassy in London

Dominique Moïsi

-Analysis-

PARIS — "The West and the Rest of Us." That's the title of a 1975 essay written by Nigerian essayist and critic Chinweizu Ibekwe. I've been thinking about his words as the war in Ukraine both reveals and accelerates divisions of the world that I believe are ultimately "emotional" in nature.

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With war returning to Europe and the risk of escalation, there is a gap between the Western view and that of the "others," a distinct "us and them." This gap cannot be explained in strictly geographical, political, and economic terms.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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