NEWS: Prostitution report wins 'Oscar' at Book Fair

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Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (jkanics@igc.apc.org)
Thu, 8 Oct 1998 12:35:34 -0700 (PDT)


Tuesday October 6 4:26 PM EDT

Prostitution report wins 'Oscar' at Book Fair

By Paul Majendie

FRANKFURT, Germany (Reuters) - An international report on the plight of
women in Asia's
burgeoning sex industry has won this year's ``Woman's Oscar'' at the world's
biggest book fair,
organizers said Tuesday.

The harrowing report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) found
that as many as 1.5
percent of all the women in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and
Indonesia may be involved in
the region's growing sex trade.

The sex industry already accounts for up to 14 percent of the four
countries' Gross Domestic
Product, and the report warned that Asia's economic turmoil could force even
more poor women
into prostitution.

Lin Lim, the Malaysian author of the shocking ILO report, is flying into
Frankfurt Saturday to be
given ``The International Oscar for Women's Non-Fiction.''

``It is a serious and profound report that highlights the plight of these
women,'' said a spokesman
for the international committee that selected the prize winner.

The award was launched in 1997 by feminist writer Shere Hite at the
Frankfurt Book Fair, which
this year has attracted nearly 6,800 publishers from 107 countries.

Lin Lim warned in her report that the sex industry showed no signs of
slowing down in Asia's
current recession. It could even be boosted by the plummeting currencies
that have made Asia an
even more attractive destination for Western ``sex tourists.''

The problem is that literally millions of people rely on the profits to be
gained from the industry.

In Thailand, for example, nearly $300 million is sent annually to families
in the country by women
working in Bangkok and other cities as prostitutes.

``Sex work is often the only viable alternative for women in communities
coping with poverty,
unemployment, failed marriages and family obligations,'' the report said.

Some are coerced into conditions of virtual slavery, others prefer
prostitution because it is more
profitable than any other job they could get.

One Malaysian prostitute was quoted in the report as saying: ``I can earn
enough to look after my
two young children. Here I only come when I need the money, and it's easy to
find a babysitter for
one day.''

The report stressed that ``child prostitution differs from -- and should be
considered a much more
serious problem than -- adult prostitution.''

Its concern was mirrored at a special conference in London Tuesday where
Britain said European
and Asian nations had to work more closely to combat the booming sex trade.
It is drawing up a
major new plan to protect children at risk.

Children's charities say that in Asia alone, more than 650,000 children
under the age of 16 work as
prostitutes and that one million children enter the global sex market every
year.

Reuters/Variety


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