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'Peterporn' sex scandal raises row in Indonesia

Last updated: 14 June, 2010
Aubrey Belford, June 14,JAKARTA: 21:17 IST

A series of jerky, pixelated video clips allegedly showing top Indonesian stars having sex has prompted debate over government efforts to punish and censor immorality in this Muslim-majority country.

Since early June, videos allegedly showing pop singer Nazril Irham, popularly known as Ariel, having sex with his actress girlfriend, Luna Maya, and a married television presenter, Cut Tari, have spread rapidly across the country via social networking sites, cellphones and DVDs.

Like celebrity sex scandals anywhere, the case has prompted plenty of head-shaking. But this being Indonesia, where laws old and new criminalise acts deemed immoral, those involved in the scandal could suffer more than just embarrassment.
The police have so far questioned at least two celebrities about the videos, and reports have said that investigators are on the trail of people suspected of distributing the clips online. The chief detective of the national police, Gen Ito Sumardi, said the authorities probably would use a controversial 2008 anti-pornography law to charge those responsible for distributing the videos. It includes heavy penalties for those who download or produce pornography — which critics say is defined so broadly that it could effectively criminalise many of Indonesia’s diverse non-Islamic cultures.
General Sumardi said the celebrities could also be charged if it could be shown that they produced the videos for the consumption of others.

Discussion of the scandal, dubbed Peterporn after Irham’s band Peterpan, briefly became the most popular topic worldwide last week on the social networking site Twitter.

Raids on schools
In response, the police have raided Internet cafes, and schools have searched students’ cellphones.

Advertisers have deserted the celebrities involved in the scandal. Both Irham and Maya, who interviewed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to Jakarta last year, have seen their advertisements for a soap removed.
The New York Times

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