Historically, prostitution in Jakarta has been known since the arrival of the VOC. In the history of Batavia there is no known job that is similar, either during the pre-Islamic or the Islamic period. The Betawi people themselves were initially not familiar with the term prostitute which later was softened and was called WTS (Wanita Tuna Susila) (Women Prostitutes) and is now even more tempered and became PSK (Pekerja Seks Komersial) (Commercial Sex Workers). The Betawi people call them cabo (whore) which is an adaptation of the Chinese language caibo and maler derived from Portuguese or in other words night butterfly (kupu-kupu malam).

Caboor prostitutes have always operated around commercial areas and hotels such as Mangga Besar or (Big Mango) area currently adjacent to Glodok. The very first concentrated area of prostitution in Batavia was at Macao Po which was then adjacent to the hotels in front of the Stasion Beos (Bus Station) (Jakarta City). This brothel was catered to the upper classes. Because the prostitutes were imported from Macao by the Portuguese and Chinese network of pimps. The customers of Macao Po were VOC officials that were known to be corrupt and tycoons, or rich people of Chinese descent.

Near Macao Po, still in the Glodok area, there can be found Gang Mangga (Manggo Alley) low-class prostitutes . It is named so because when the 'women' were sick they would be called having 'mango sickness', which later became known as lion king or syphilis. In the 19th century, syphilis, was one of the diseases that was difficult to cure because antibiotics had not yet been found. This prostitution compound was later competed by brothels established by the Chinese called soehian. This localization was then closed at the beginning of the 20th century because of frequent unrest. But the word soehian was never lost in Betawi dialect to show the meaning pesky: "Dasar Suwean" (damn).

After the transfer of sovereignty, prostitution complexes were found in various places, such as Gang Hauber (Hauber Alley) in Petojo that consisted of Gang Hauber I, II, and III which in the mid-1950's Mayor Sudiro changed to Gang Sadar (Awareness Alley) to change its image, although until the early 1980s was still operating. In Sawah Besar there can be found a prostitution complex called Kaligot, taken from the name of the French Aligot Theater which performed in Batavia in the 1930s. While in the Senen area, there can be found a prostitution complex called Planet, a name taken from the events marking the competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in launching sputnik into space in the 1960s. In Senen Planet, lower class prostitution takes place in the carriages of trains between Senen Station and Jl.Tanah Nyonya (Gunung Sahari) whose length is several hundred meters. In addition, the practice of prostitution takes place in cardboard houses near the railroad tracks. Brothels visited by thousands of people every day were wiped out during the administration of Governor Ali Sadikin (1971) and sex workers were moved and localized to Kramat Tunggak, North Jakarta.