This study applies critical systems thinking as a process to respond to and offer recommendations to address prostitution policy in Indonesia. The article addresses social, economic and environmental aspects of prostitution. The analysis centres on the way in which prostitution is framed by the different interest groups in Indonesia, and highlights the current crisis in policy-making praxis in Indonesia. The article develops a case for systemic policy praxis, and aims to: (1) Make a case for re-framing the issue of prostitution in the sense that it addresses the ‘capabilities’ prostituted women and children ought to have (see Sen in Development as freedom, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999 and Nussbaum in Women and human development: the capabilities approach, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2000). (2) Re-frame the policy response to prostitution to address life chances and human dignity. (3) Assert that the lack of attention to a just and fair human rights for all is due to a policy-making gap where ‘systemic intervention’ is required to restore human dignity.