Author: M. G.
Kuta is the most famous tourist beach in Bali. Kuta's Cowboys are the new trend in Bali if you're a foreign woman spending your holidays alone on the Island of the Gods. What are they precisely? They don't like to be called gigolos, but they are. Women looking for Balinese adventures - both emotional and physical - find a pretty good solution in these Kuta's Cowboys . Cowboy's services are available at affordable prices - clothes, meals, or other goods.
Meanwhile the HIV infections rates in Bali are raising more and more and researchers believes that the actual number of seropositives on the island is way higher than the official numbers. An estimate of 26,000 people infected by HIV is described as only the "tip of the iceberg" by Emily Rowe, program manager at the Kerti Praja Foundation, a medical clinic in the provincial capital of Denpasar. Sex workers are one of the groups at higher risk of infection and, therefore, their many clients are too.
In 2010 Amit Virmani released the documentary ‘Cowboys in Paradise', an investigation about Balinese male sex workers that was followed by the arrest of almost 30 people who were charged with immoral behaviour. Immoral behaviour? What's that? Stigmatization and prejudice against not just HIV/AIDS but also against gays, sex workers and so on, is the main problem. If the only reason officially given for the arrest of a Kuta's Cowboys is a moral one, you can see all the limits of Indonesia at the moment concerning the fight against the epidemic. It's not about morals, it's about health and about poverty!
Not everybody was lucky enough to have received a proper education about HIV/AIDS and health in general, there's nothing to be surprised if young handsome guys in need of money decide to conduct an ‘immoral' life-style. On the other side, it's disappointing reading that the aversion towards condom use, which is paralyzing many of the safe sex programs on the island, is mainly connected with religious and moral reasons. It's even stranger that tourists in Bali, who often come for the wide offer of local sex workers -both female and male- are OK with doing it bare. They really should know better! If you then consider that one out of five Balinese female sex workers are actually carrying the virus, it's very easy to see how many factors are now working together to make Bali the perfect environment for the infection to spread.
What to do? Talk about this as much as we can, let everybody know what's happening there, not to spread panic and terror, but because Bali is an island in desperate need of knowledge and HIV awareness. Share it, guys!