Prostitution in South East Asia
In the countries of South East Asia, prostitution is an issue that has been going on for years. Dating back to pre communist era in Japan and Vietnam where it grew larger, prostitution is an issue in Asia. Due to economic, political and class factors prostitution is an easy way to make money but it’s the women who are put into the spotlight. The girls are put into prostitution to bring money into the household, pay off debts, and keep themselves out of poverty. Along with the moral issues of prostitution there are also the health factors of the risk of HIV and AIDs.
Prostitution, by definition, generally means the command by a person of any natural or unnatural sexual act, deviate sexual intercourse, or sexual contact for monetary consideration. Prostitution dates back to pre-communist Japan in 1932, with the ideas of comfort wagons or brothel trains, used by the Europeans and soldiers. The women were captured from countries ruled by Japan and became captives of the military. The women were forced to have intercourse with the Japanese soldiers.
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When prostitution began in Japan, it was for more of a personal need and on a limited scale, but in Vietnam in 1964, when the Americans had occupied different sections prostitution more than tripled from 20,000 to 400,000. The Thailand government started a recreation and rest program for the American soldiers. For the economic and political aspect of this “recreation” the soldiers needed female companionship and the country needed money. It was considered a win win for both sides and it helped to build up the economy.
Thailand’s recreation isn’t considered prostitution because prostitution is illegal, they are renamed massage parlors, tea houses, etc. to side swipe what is really going on. Since they are not “brothels” there is no reason for the government to observe them, this type of ignorance of this denies help for prostitutes and medical help for HIV and AIDs. Women in areas like Cambodia in the pre communist era were never taught any type of sexual education, many had no idea what the idea of sex was in general.
Many families would sell their daughters to brothels to pay off debts and they would be left there at that. If girls were raped, or sexually touched in an way they were never allowed to speak up or say anything because it would bring shame upon themselves and their families. Virgins were considered a high asset because it was believed they would bring the man good luck, wealth, and clean from any diseases. From the class section of this issue, it was very common for an underprivileged family to exploit their daughters for money.
In an article by Paul Snyder he explains how a family would go about sending out their daughter (s), “ An impoverished peasant family recognizes that one or more of their daughters is fairly good looking. They first try to marry her off to one of the rich young men there in the vicinity who is attracted to her. But, he, being more experienced, better educated, and powerful, just seduces her and lets it go at that. The girls then have no more marital value at home.
The laws prevent the parents from selling her outright; so she is sent to a known house of ill repute. The deal is that the madam (mamasan) will provide the girl with a wardrobe, teach her some poise and the ropes of the business, and pay for her daily trips to the beauty parlor, her weekly checks for VD at the clinic, and provide her with a private rom and board until she gets on her feet and starts making money. Than the mamasan will take out initial costs until her debt is paid off and than she can keep her own commission.
Her commission is usually just sent right to her family. ” In this article by Paul Snyder, he explains the more financial aspect of prostitution in the lower class families. The daughters who are sent off, as stated in the article, send the money home to their families so they are able to care for the rest of the family. With prostituting being a highly grossing “job” its easy to see why many of the girls offer themselves or the families offer them this lifestyle.
In a 1997 study by the Ministry of Public Health in Thailand, “the sex sector of the South East countries relies greatly on the gross income from prostitution for themselves and families. The government also collects a lot of revenue from this business, from bribes, corruption, and fees from the places where this is occurring” Something that I found very interesting is that in Thailand men are pushed to be promiscuous while women are supposed to stay virgins before marriage and monogamous afterwards.
Prostituting is very common for local people and visitors, girls as young as seven are being sent out to men in need of sexual favors. Many of the men much older, not caring about disease or common morals. For men this is considered a night out with friends but for the girls, some need counseling afterwards to help to recuperate. In Thailand as well, visiting a brothel for the first time for a man is considered a right of passage and that they are easy ways to have cheap sex. In conclusion, prostitution is a corrupt yet fundamental type of entertainment in South East Asia.