Screen capture from the video below.
Children are a common sight at political rallies in Indonesia. Political parties use them to fill out the crowd – sometimes even paying them to attend - and have them distribute promotional gear. This has drawn outrage from many Indonesians who point out the dangers of overcrowding and the heat, but also because the rallies feature very lascivious dances by ‘dangdut’ singers. This election season, the performers have been twerking, the dance move made famous by US pop star Miley Cyrus.
It is against Indonesian law for children to attend rallies, but this rule is widely ignored. Some parties have said that they don’t have the means to control who attends their rallies, while others have argued that rallies are part of children’s political education.
Children stand in the front row of a dangdut performance at a rally. Photo published on Twitter.

“Dancers perform erotic dances that are just not appropriate for children – and the parties know full well that kids will be there”

Rita Pranawati serves as one of the commissioners for the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI). She believes it is the responsibility both of political parties and of parents to keep children away from rallies.
The law is meant to protect children both physically and psychologically from abuse during the frenzy of elections. Children do not have the right to vote, and so political rallies should be limited to interaction between parties and their voters. And yet, we have seen most parties disobey this rule.
One way political parties attract people to their rallies is by giving cash handouts. The money is usually given to adults, but we have also noted incidents this year in which high school students were paid to join the rallies.
“Children are asked to distribute campaign materials to elicit sympathy from voters”
Then, there’s the fact that parties get children to distribute campaign materials. They’re given stickers, flags, and t-shirts to hand out. The parties seem to think that getting the children to do this will elicit more sympathy from the public and from voters.
Children with party gear at a rally. Photo provided by KPAI.
Dangdut performers are a “must” to attract people to rallies. Truth be told, most political parties provide more entertainment than political education – their goal is to put on a show of force by drawing huge numbers. Many parents and children want to come to the rallies because they feature prominent stars like Rhoma Irama, a singer who is called the king of dangdut. But sometimes the dancers perform erotic dances that are just not appropriate for children. It’s really unfortunate that parties do this, knowing full well there are children at their rallies.
Dangdut dancers at a political rally. Children can be seen on the left side of the photo. Published on Twitter.
We’re trying to educate parents so that they understand that it’s plain dangerous to bring children to these massive rallies. Indonesian weather is extremely hot, and many children and teenagers pass out in the crowds. Many parents argue that their children want to follow them to the rallies; some even say that rallies are part of their political education. But in my opinion, children should learn about democracy not at rallies, but through class leader elections or discussion in safe places.
Indonesia’s legislative elections will take place on April 9. It is a massive undertaking, with nearly 190 million Indonesians – spread out over about 900 islands – eligible to vote. How well the main opposition party fares in this election is expected to determine its success in the presidential election, slated for July.
A relatively mild dance by a dangdut singer at a recent rally.