Customs officers burn 442 ‘illegal’ sex toys as lockdown drives dildo demand

The coronavirus pandemic has wrecked economies worldwide – but it’s also had some weirdly positive effects. It’s sparked a massive boom in sales of sex toys across the globe.

But as well as leading to a vibrator boom in comparatively tolerant countries such as New Zealand, Denmark and the UK, it’s also led to a huge surge in demand for dildos and masturbators in Indonesia – where such things are banned.

Indonesian customs official Dwiyono Widodo told local news site Detik that over the past few months there had been a massive increase in seizures of illegal sex toys by his officers.

The confiscated goods are burned by the authorities – in one recent operation, 442 sex toys were destroyed in Bandung, the capital of the Indonesian province of West Java.

Indonesians who order sex toys or pornographic magazines and videos from overseas will often receive letters from the authorities telling them that their shipment ha been destroyed because it violates RI Law Number 44 of 2008 concerning pornography, and cannot be delivered.

Many sex toys are slipping through the net though, because for every large-scale shipment for retail there are dozens of small orders for personal use: “Sex toys are mainly for private consumption. There are usually only one or two items in each delivery,” customs official Elfi Haris told local news site Waspada.

At a press conference Widodo showed off some of the items that had been intercepted by Indonesian customs, including a male masturbation sleeve and a purple dildo.

Despite the high-profile customs operations, the rules are apparently not clear to everyone. Lian Kie, owner of an adult store in Yogyakarta, in Central Java, told Vice that we didn’t know sex toys were against the law – saying there were plenty of suppliers and distributors across the region.

Despite the obstacles, people are still ordering sex toys. Mathilde Mackowski, co-owner of Sinful, Scandinavia’s biggest sex toy retailer, told Reuters: “It makes me happy that we are doing something good during this difficult time, when people feel vulnerable”.

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