Prostitution may be an ancient profession and have had sacred roots, but it was soon commercialised (in many countries this was with the complicity of its rulers) and it is both interesting and significant that it still thrives today. It would appear there are underlying causal factors that won’t go away. If we take the fact that men are wont to ‘do it’ anytime, anywhere, anyway as a given, then, from the seller’s point of view, the most likely basic factor is their human will to survive in the face of poverty. Others factors are rooted in a country’s economic fortune (+ or -), its political structure, Laws, and the socio-religious make-up of its inhabitants. If you look into these factors in depth you can see cause and effect at work. In a truly egalitarian society where poverty is unknown (no, I don’t know of any), given the lack of need, prostitution would be rare if not totally absent. There would simply be no need for a female to exchange her favours for money, and no need for parents to force their child into that trade. The male, of course, would continue to seek stray sexual liaisons with other willing woman, be it for money or for love, and would wear out his shoes crossing borders to find it. However it is notably in countries where there is unequal distribution of opportunity and wealth – and this would describe most on this planet today – where prostitution flourishes. Perversely, in some relatively affluent and perhaps morally lax consumer orientated societies, some women misguidedly see prostitution simply as an easy earner: an opportunity to make a lazy quick buck.
Impoverishment can drive people to thuggery, banditry and piracy, but for most women, the traditional avenue has long been prostitution. Hardship and poverty will often drive them to migrate to where the action is too: to a more prosperous pool. This is true, in recent times, of eastern European prostitutes. Many migrated to the more prosperous west for that purpose – along with the concomitant contingent of criminal minders. The receiving Government may then be called upon to enact laws with which to control the increased trade; or at least to keep it off the streets where it may be deemed offensive. Local police may take the increased trade and regulatory atmosphere as a god-given opportunity to earn protection money or bribes and to enforce their own controls. Meanwhile, politicians and NGOs will have to work at effecting harm-reduction through better education and clinics, while those of the countries with the contracting, shrinking economies will be attempting to improve their society’s well being – hopefully.
Singapore was right up there with the western world in the recent property and finance-market boom. It was also up there when the bubble burst and was just as enmeshed in the global Crisis. The populace has certainly suffered some stricture, but things should be viewed as relative. Compared to most of its immediate neighbours Singapore is still buoyant; an affluent island nation that suffered little. But life for the Thai, Vietnamese, Myanmar, Filipina, Indonesian, Sri Lankan, Tamil – and even some Chinese – simply went from bad to worse: political instability, entrenched corruption, religious violence, and natural disasters haven’t helped them of course. Singapore stands out as a shining beacon of modernity and prosperity to all around. How attractive that must appear to a woman suffering hardship in a neighbouring country!
There has always been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between neighbouring Asian countries, and prostitutes, by making good use of Singapore’s Social Visit Pass, have the opportunity to move to where the greater money is, albeit temporarily.
Entry visas and permits are a complex matter, but Singapore has quite a laissez faire attitude to visitor entry. Singaporeans are a busy people. They rely on a labouring force. They need female employees who can mind children and take them to and from school: baby sitters, house cleaners, cooks, someone to do the shopping . . . all those bothersome tasks that the well-to-do would rather pay someone else to do. Visitor entry is rigorously and scrupulously policed however, using the latest technology and Interpol links. But once in . . . Well, let’s look at that. Even without legitimate employment, if a neighbouring Asian woman flies in they can get a month’s Social Visit Pass, and if they come in by bus or train they will be permitted to stay two weeks. By turning tricks, working hard at it, they can make a lot of money in that brief time. The clever ones also bend the rules a little by hopping on a bus to Johore Baru in neighbouring Malaysia or even going up into Thailand towards the end of their visitors pass, returning to Singapore to extend it for another 2 weeks. This trick doesn’t work for all and some face immediate deportation and a black mark. Others who use the 2 week passes too frequently will have their pass restricted to 1 week or even 3 days. Those caught in an Anti Vice raid in a red light district like Geylang, can have their Pass cancelled immediately for an alleged vice offence and be deported – and banned from re-entering Singapore. While these cases should go to court first, Anti Vice officers are wont to just hustle them out en masse with due notation on their records. Those who aren’t greedy and play the system well can make a lot of money. Those who overstay can easily be swayed to come under a gang’s protection, thus losing any independence they may have had.