It was 1987, and the dry season was at its peak. As the sun was roasting the asphalt on the streets of Surabaya, Indonesia, a woman named Lilik Sulistiowati was sheltering in a corner of a coffee shop in a part of the city called “Dolly”.

As the decade was coming to a close, Dolly was fast becoming infamous as the largest red-light district in Southeast Asia. Its skyrocketing infamy went hand in hand with the widespread violence that had mushroomed in the area, where violent crimes like assault, torture and murder were commonplace.

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Reno Surya Headshot for New Naratif

Reno Surya

Reno Surya is a freelance journalist based in Surabaya, East Java.

Ivan Darski

Ivan Darski is a freelance photographer from Surabaya. His work focuses primarily on photo essays and has been published in Jawa Pos, DBL Indonesia and Vice Indonesia.