The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) has demanded that a children’s book be pulled off shelves for allegedly encouraging boys to masturbate.
The book is titled Aku Berani Tidur Sendiri (I’m Brave to Sleep Alone) and was sold by educational publisher PT Tiga Serangkai for Rp.22,000 (US$1.65). Images of the book’s cover, showing a boy in bed grinding against his pillow with his hand between his legs, have been doing the rounds on social media for the past 24 hours.
You might think it’s a hoax. If so, it’s an elaborate one that was a long time in the planning. The book was until February 21 listed on the publisher’s website and other book vending sites. However, images of the book’s text contain typing errors, suggesting it is either fake or just lazy writing and editing. Quite possibly the latter.
The following is a translation of part of the contentious text:
“Minute by minute goes by and my eyes still cannot close. I cross my legs strongly around my long pillow. Just playing around, I move my body up and down. Wow, it feels nice too. My heart races, but I’m happy. I have discovered a fun new game. Sometimes, I put my hand in my pants. I repeat it, again and again.”
A lengthy post on Tiga Serangkai’s purported Instagram account says the book is part of the ‘I Can Protect Myself’ series, which aims to help parents explain to children the importance of protecting themselves from disease, strangers and sexual crimes. The post says sex education from a young age is important. “We raised the subject of ‘masturbation’ in one story, based on the phenomenon of children who get a thrill when touching, holding or even playing with their genitals.”
The rambling post goes on to say that a Google search for “child plays genitals” brings up a lot of relevant articles, some of which suggest toddlers play with themselves. It says that although such play is a “normal part of the child development process” parents may be alarmed if their children know about it and start masturbating, hence the book was written. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The author of the book is listed as Fita Chakra (http://www.fitachakra.com), a mother of three daughters and a writer of simple life guidance books for children. On October 28, 2016, a seemingly genuine Facebook account in her full name, Fitria Chakrawati, posted an image containing the book’s cover. She did not immediately respond to our messages seeking confirmation of her authorship.
KPAI head Asrorun Ni’am Sholeh on Monday demanded the publisher issue a public apology and stop selling the book. She said the book does not provide proper sex education but instead encourages sexual perversion in children.
Tiga Serangkai’s Instagram account then issued a statement saying, “We realize that some members of our society may not be ready to receive sexual education from an early age. As part of our responsibility, we withdrew the book from circulation in public bookstores in December 2016, shortly after the book was published. However, unfortunately, it turned out that it was being sold in online stores.”
The company, which was selling the book online, said anyone who had bought the book could return it to their office in Surakarta, Central Java, for a full refund, or for exchange with another book.
Sex education is a sensitive issue in Indonesia, especially as religious intolerance becomes exploited for political capital. Nevertheless, books or no books, boys will be boys, whenever they are ready.