ILO Report on Sex Sector wins award

New Message Reply Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

Marie Enedy (enedy@ilowbo.org)
Fri, 09 Oct 1998 16:01:17 -0400


10 October 1998

ILO Report on Sex Sector Receives Prestigious Publishing Prize
at Frankfurt Book Fair

        FRANKFURT (ILO News) * A prestigious publishing prize, the 1998 International Nike Award, has been awarded to Ms. Lin Lean Lim of the International Labour Office (ILO) for a recently published study on the sex industry in Southeast Asia.

        The prize was launched in 1997 by feminist writer Shere Hite at the Frankfurt Book Fair to honour nonfiction writing by women which contributes to the advancement of thinking about the situation of women in the world. The ILO publication was chosen by a jury including women from five continents, all of whom are renowned for their writings and activism.

        The ILO study examines the social and economic forces driving the growth of the sex industry in four Southeast Asian countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. It says that the provision of sexual services has assumed the dimensions of a full-blown commercial sector, one that provides direct and indirect employment to millions of workers and contributes substantially to national incomes throughout the region.

        She said that *the growing scale of prostitution raises alarming questions, not only about public health, morality and gender discrimination, but about the basic human rights of the ever-increasing numbers of commercial sex workers, most of whom would appear to enter the business willingly, but many of whom are forced, trafficked, tricked or exploited into sex work.* She said that migrant women were a particularly vulnerable group and evidence abounds of *ruthlessly efficient international networks directing trafficking of migrant prostitutes throughout Asia and beyond.*

        While the conditions of adult sex workers differ greatly, ranging from freely chosen and highly remunerative to exploitation and virtual slavery, *there is no such ambiguity concerning child prostitution,* which is considered as a much more serious problem than adult prostitution.

        The report estimates that anywhere between 0.25 per cent and 1.5 per cent of the total female population in the study countries are engaged in prostitution. Related activities (including the numerous bars, hotels, entertainment facilities and tourist agencies that thrive on prostitution), employ literally millions more workers. Large segments of the population in Southeast Asia * notably the rural-poor families who often send their daughters to work as prostitutes * rely upon remittances from prostitution for their well-being if not for their outright survival. However, in spite of the size and economic importance of prostitution, it is almost entirely unregulated and goes unrecognised in official statistics, development plans and government budgets of almost all countries worldwide.

        The report emphasizes the economic bases of prostitution, highlighting the strong economic incentives that drive women to enter the sector, despite the social stigma and danger attached to the work Sex work is often better paid than most of the options available to young, often uneducated women. The report also highlights the many vested economic interests that derive profit from the activities rather than the women and children who are the ones who are commercially sexually exploited. The report stresses that in order to come to terms with the problems of prostitution, it is necessary to tackle these various vested interests. These include a wide range of social actors, including the families of the women and children who depend on the revenues generated by prostitution and who sometimes sell their children into prostitution, the various sex establishments which include large swathes of the entertainment and travel & tourism industries and corrupt officials without which international trafficking networks
could not operate with impunity.

        To purchase *The Sex Sector* call (301) 638-3152 or send a check in the amount of $24.95 (plus postage and handling of $4.50 for the first book plus $1.00 for each additional copy) to:
ILO Publications Center
P.O. Box 753
Waldorf, MD 20604-0753
From Tanya@tesco.net Fri Oct 9 20:10:54 1998
Received: from aisle (aisle.tesco.net [194.73.73.167])
        by solar.cini.utk.edu (8.9.0/8.9.0) with SMTP id UAA22076
        for <stop-traffic@solar.cini.utk.edu>; Fri, 9 Oct 1998 20:10:52 -0400 (EDT)
Received: from eayqwndo [62.172.24.13]
        by aisle with smtp (Exim 1.70 #1)
        id 0zRmhv-0002BK-00; Sat, 10 Oct 1998 01:16:27 +0100
Message-ID: <001801bdf3e4$1a9c8400$0d18ac3e@eayqwndo>
From: "John Davies" <Tanya@tesco.net>
To: <stop-traffic@solar.cini.utk.edu>
Subject: Re: ILO Report on Sex Sector wins award
Date: Sat, 10 Oct 1998 01:22:43 +0100
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain;
        charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
X-Priority: 3
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 4.72.3110.5
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V4.72.3110.3

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
----

ILO Home

INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION
1998 PRESS RELEASES

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
----

Sex industry assuming massive proportions in Southeast Asia

Economic incentives and hardships fuel the growth of the sex sector
Migrant women, children are particularly vulnerable
to commercial sexual exploitation

Wednesday 19 August 1998
Released simultaneously in Geneva and Manila
( ILO/98/31 )

GENEVA (ILO News) - Prostitution in Southeast Asia has grown so rapidly in
recent decades that the sex business has assumed the dimensions of a
commercial sector, one that contributes substantially to employment and
national income in the region, according to a new report * published by the
Geneva-based International Labour Office.

The report suggests that in spite of Asia's economic crisis, the economic
and social forces driving the sex industry show no signs of slowing down,
particularly in light of rising unemployment in the region.

According to Ms. Lin Lim, the ILO official who directed the study, "If the
evidence from the recession of the mid-1980s is any indication, then it is
very likely that women who lose their jobs in manufacturing and other
service sectors and whose families rely on their remittances may be driven
to enter the sex sector." As to the prospect of a slowdown in the demand for
commercial sex services following region-wide declines in personal income,
the ILO report notes that "poverty has never prevented men from frequenting
prostitutes, whose fees are geared to the purchasing power of their
customers." Moreover, after decades of interaction with other economies, the
sex industry in Asia is effectively internationalized: overseas demand is
likely to be unaltered by domestic circumstances and may be even fuelled as
exchange rate differentials make sex tourism an even cheaper thrill for
customers from other regions.

Although researched prior to the current crisis, the ILO report warns that
the growing scale of prostitution in Asia, combined with its increasing
economic and international significance, have serious implications relating
to public morality, social welfare, transmission of HIV/AIDS, criminality,
violations of the basic human rights of commercial sex workers, and
commercial sexual exploitation especially of the child victims of
prostitution. Yet, there is no clear legal stance nor effective public
policies or programmes to deal with prostitution in any of the countries.
"The sex sector is not recognized as an economic sector in official
statistics, development plans or government budgets."

Governments are constrained not only because of the sensitivity and
complexity of the issues involved but also because the circumstances of the
sex workers can range widely from freely chosen and remunerative employment
to debt bondage and virtual slavery. The countries have, however, taken
action to eliminate child prostitution, an activity the ILO report
caracterizes as "a serious human rights violation and an intolerable form of
child labour." Child prostitution risks growing as poverty and unemployment
strain family income and contribute to the expanding ranks of street
children who are an increasingly common sight on the streets of cities
worldwide.

The report, entitled The Sex Sector: The economic and social bases of
prostitution in Southeast Asia, is based on detailed studies of prostitution
and commercial sex work in four countries - Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines
and Thailand. The authors of the ILO report emphasize that the scrutiny of
the sex-sector of these four countries does not suggest that they have a
unique prostitution problem or that their social, moral or economic values
are especially aberrant. In fact, the national case studies in the report
"are illustrative of the situation in many countries," and prostitution and
its attendant problems are universal.

Major Employment and Revenue Generator

The report says that although the exact number of working prostitutes in
these countries is impossible to calculate due to the illegal or clandestine
nature of the work, anywhere between 0.25 per cent and 1.5 per cent of the
total female population are engaged in prostitution.

Estimates made in 1993/4 suggest that there were between 140,000 to 230,000
prostitutes in Indonesia. In Malaysia, the estimated figures for working
prostitutes range from 43,000 to 142,000, but the higher figure is more
probable, according to the ILO analysis. In the Philippines, estimates range
from 100,000 to 600,000, but the likelihood is that there are nearly half a
million prostitutes in the country. In Thailand, the Ministry of Public
Health survey recorded 65,000 prostitutes in 1997 but unofficial sources put
the figure between 200,000 to 300,000. There are also tens of thousands of
Thai and Filipino prostitutes working in other countries. The prostitutes
are mainly women, but there are also male, transvestite and child
prostitutes.

If we include the owners, managers, pimps and other employees of the sex
establishments, the related entertainment industry and some segments of the
tourism industry, the number of workers earning a living directly or
indirectly from prostitution would be several millions. A 1997 study by the
Ministry of Public Health of Thailand found that of a total of 104,262
workers in some 7,759 establishments where sexual services could be
obtained, only 64,886 were sex workers; the rest were support staff
including cleaners, waitresses, cashiers, parking valets and security
guards. A Malaysian study lists occupations with links to the sex sector as
medical practitioners (who provide regular health checks for the
prostitutes), operators of food stalls in the vicinity of sex
establishments, vendors of cigarettes and liquor, and property owners who
rent premises to providers of sexual services. In the Philippines,
establishments known to be involved in the sex sector include special
tourist agencies, escort services, hotel room service, saunas and health
clinics, casas or brothels, bars, beer gardens, cocktail lounges, cabarets
and special clubs.

The sex sector in the four countries is estimated to account for anywhere
from 2 to 14 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and the revenues it
generates are crucial to the livelihoods and earnings potential of millions
of workers beyond the prostitutes themselves. Government authorities also
collect substantial revenues in areas where prostitution thrives, illegally
from bribes and corruption, but legally from licensing fees and taxes on the
many hotels, bars, restaurants and game rooms that flourish in its wake.

In Thailand, for example, close to US$300 million is transferred annually to
rural families by women working in the sex sector in urban areas, a sum that
in many cases exceeds the budgets of government-funded development
programmes. For the 1993-95 period, the estimate was that prostitution
yielded an annual income of between US$22.5 and 27 billion.

In Indonesia the financial turnover of the sex sector is estimated at US$1.2
billion to US$3.3 billion per year, or between 0.8 and 2.4 per cent of the
country's GDP, with much of prostitutes' earnings remitted from the urban
brothel complexes they work in to the villages their families live in. In
the Jakarta area alone, there is an estimated annual turnover of US$91
million from activities related to the sale of sex.

Economic Incentives Drive the Industry

While many current studies highlight the tragic stories of individual
prostitutes, especially of women and children deceived or coerced into the
practice, the ILO surveys point out that many workers entered for pragmatic
reasons and with a general sense of awareness of the choice they were
making. About one-half of Malaysian prostitutes interviewed for the study
said it was "friends who showed the way to earn money easily," a pattern
that is replicated in the other study countries.

Sex work is usually better paid than most of the options available to young,
often uneducated women, in spite of the stigma and danger attached to the
work. In all four of the countries studied, sex work provided significantly
higher earnings than other forms of unskilled labour.

In many cases, sex work is often the only viable alternative for women in
communities coping with poverty, unemployment, failed marriages and family
obligations in the nearly complete absence of social welfare programmes. For
single mothers with children, it is often a more flexible, remunerative and
less time-consuming option than factory or service work.

Surveys within sex establishments revealed that while a significant
proportion of sex workers claimed they wanted to leave the occupation if
they could, many expressed concern about the earnings they risked losing if
they changed jobs.

Even so, the surveys also reveal that in the experience of most of the women
surveyed, prostitution is one of the most alienating forms of labour. Over
50 per cent of the women surveyed in Philippine massage parlours said they
carried out their work "with a heavy heart," and 20 per cent said they were
"conscience stricken because they still considered sex with customers a
sin." Interviews with Philippine bar girls revealed that more than half of
them felt "nothing" when they had sex with a client, the remainder said the
transactions saddened them.

Surveys of women working as masseuses indicated that 34 per cent of them
explained their choice of work as necessary to support poor parents, 8 per
cent to support siblings and 28 per cent to support husbands or boyfriends.
More than 20 per cent said the job was well paid, but only 2 per cent said
it was easy work and only 2 per cent claimed to enjoy the work. Over a third
reported that they had been subject to violence or harassment, most commonly
from the police but also from city officials and gangsters.

A survey among workers in massage parlours and brothels in Thailand revealed
that "most of the women entered the sex industry for economic reasons."
Brothel workers were more likely to say that they became prostitutes to earn
money to support their children, while massage parlour women were often
motivated by the opportunity to earn a high income to support their parents.
Almost all of those surveyed stated that they knew the type of work they
would be doing before taking up the job. Almost one-half of the brothel
workers and one-quarter of the massage parlour workers had previously worked
in agriculture. A further 17 per cent of the masseuses said they had
previously worked in home or cottage industries and 11 per cent had been
domestic servants.

The rationale, in Thailand and elsewhere, was that in exchange for engaging
in an occupation which is disapproved of by most of society and which
carries known health risks, "the workers expected to obtain an income
greater than they could earn in other occupations." In nearly all segments
of the sex trade, that expectation was fulfilled, and remittances from the
women working in the sex industry provide many rural families with a
relatively high standard of living. The earnings of Thai sex workers varied
widely according to the sector and the number of transactions engaged in,
but surveys showed a mean income per month of US$800 for all women, with a
mean of US$1,400 for massage parlour workers and US$240 for women in
brothels.

Studies of prostitution in Indonesia consistently show relatively high
earnings compared with other occupations in which women with low levels of
education are likely to find work. The personal incomes of high-range sex
workers in large cities (for example call girls working in high-priced
discos and nightclubs) can be as high as US$2,500 per month, a level which
far exceeds the earnings of middle-level civil servants and other
occupations requiring a high level of education. Average monthly earnings in
the middle range of the sector were estimated at around US$600 monthly and
US$100 at the low end (when the exchange rate was US$1= 2,000 rupiahs).

In contrast, the earnings and working conditions are miserably low at the
bottom end of the market: sexual transactions in cheap brothels can be as
low as $1.50 and prices on the streets of slums or alongside market areas
and railroad tracks are even lower, with comparatively higher risks in terms
of personal safety and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases and
HIV/AIDS.

In Malaysia, earnings in the sex sector are higher relative to earnings in
other types of unskilled employment. In manufacturing, for instance, average
wages per annum in 1990 were US$2,852 for skilled workers and US$1,711 per
annum for unskilled workers. In comparison, a part-time sex worker in the
cheapest of hotels who received US$4 per client, seeing about ten clients
daily and working only once a week for about 12 hours, earned US$2,080 per
annum.

One such sex worker explained "I can earn enough to look after my two young
children. It is so difficult to get someone to look after them when you work
elsewhere. Here I only come when I need the money and it is easy to find a
babysitter for just one day."

All four country studies point out, however, that the information was
gathered from establishments and individual prostitutes willing to be
surveyed. The picture is incomplete on those establishments, especially
brothels, which virtually enslave the workers and on those women and
children who are the victims of serious exploitation and abuse.

The Child Victims of Prostitution

The ILO stresses that whereas adults could choose sex work as an occupation,
children are invariably victims of prostitution. "Child prostitution differs
from - and should be considered a much more serious problem than - adult
prostitution." Children, in contrast to adults, "are clearly much more
vulnerable and helpless against the established structures and vested
interests in the sex sector, and much more likely to be victims of debt
bondage, trafficking, physical violence or torture. Commercial sexual
exploitation is such a serious form of violence against children that there
are lifelong and life-threatening consequences."

As with adult prostitution, it is not possible to have precise figures on
the extent of child prostitution. A 1997 report put the number of child
victims of prostitution at 75,000 in the Philippines. In Thailand, a 1993
estimate was between 30,000 to 35,000 child prostitutes. In Indonesia, a
1992 survey found that one-tenth of the prostitutes were below 17 years and
of those who were older, more than a fifth said they had started working
before the age of 17. In Malaysia, more than half of those "rescued" from
various sex establishments were under 18 years.

Prostitution and the Feminization of Migration

Significantly, the country studies encountered few, if any, women working as
prostitutes in the towns or villages where they grew up. Prostitutes tend to
be procured from rural areas or small towns for the cities or, as young,
first-time job seekers new to urban areas, are vulnerable to being drawn
into the sex sector.

The ILO report also cites available evidence to suggest that there has been
a rise in international trafficking of women and children for the sex
sector. Underground syndicates operate "ruthlessly efficient" networks,
often with official connections, to recruit, transport, sell women and
children across national borders.

An estimated 20,000-30,000 Burmese women work in the sex sector in Thailand;
nearly all are illegal immigrants at constant risk of arrest and deportation
and 50 per cent are estimated to be HIV positive. In India, some 100,000
Nepalese women work as prostitutes, with an additional 5,000 Nepalese
trafficked to the country each year. An estimated 200,000 women from
Bangladesh have been trafficked to Pakistan over the past decade and
thousands more to India.

The report also identifies the feminization of labour migration as one of
the major factors fuelling growth in the sex sector. It says that some 80
per cent of the Asian female migrant workers legally entering Japan in the
1990s were "entertainers", a common euphemism for prostitutes. Most are from
the Philippines and Thailand. Thai women work as prostitutes throughout Asia
as well as in Australia, Europe and the United States. Flows of prostitutes
throughout south and southeast Asia are described as almost "commuter-like"
in their regularity and complexity.

What is to be done?

The report says that "measures targeting the sex sector have to consider
moral, religious, health, human rights and criminal issues in addressing a
phenomenon that is mainly economic in nature." A major hurdle to the
formulation of effective policy and programme measures to deal with
prostitution has been "that policy makers have shied away from directly
dealing with prostitution as an economic sector."

The report states categorically that it is outside the purview of the ILO to
take a stand on whether countries should legalize prostitution. While fully
acknowledging the complexity of cutting through the many ambivalent,
inconsistent and contradictory perceptions swirling around prostitution, the
report does, however, offer some recommendations on developing a policy
stance.

Target child prostitution for elimination: The ILO says that entirely
separate measures need to be envisaged for adult prostitution versus child
prostitution. Children are invariably victims of prostitution whereas adults
could choose sex work as an occupation. "International conventions all treat
child prostitution as an unacceptable form of forced labour; the goal is its
total elimination." Success in eliminating child prostitution would also
reduce the problem of adult prostitution, since many adult prostitutes
report having entered the sex sector while they were still underage.
Recognize the variety of circumstances prevailing among prostitutes and
eliminate abuses: The ILO study says that some prostitutes freely choose sex
work, others are pressured by poverty and dire economic circumstances, and
still others are coerced or deceived into prostitution." It points out that
some prostitutes' incomes and working conditions are very good, while others
labour under conditions akin to bondage or slavery and suffer extreme
exploitation and abuse. "For adults who freely choose sex work, the policy
concerns should focus on improving their working conditions and social
protection so as to ensure that they are entitled to the same labour rights
and benefits as other workers. For those who have been subject to force,
deception or violence, the priority should be their rescue, rehabilitation
and reintegration into society."
Focus on structures that sustain prostitution, nor just the prostitutes
themselves: "Any meaningful approach to the sex sector cannot focus only on
individual prostitutes," says the ILO report. "An effective response
requires measures directed at the economic and social bases" of the
phenomenon. "The stark reality is that the sex sector is a big business that
is well entrenched in the national economies and the international economy,"
with highly organized structures and linkages to other types of legitimate
economic activity. "Prostitution is also deeply rooted in a double standard
of morality for men and women, as well as in a sense of gratitude or
obligation that children feel they owe their parents."
Macroeconomic Analysis: The ILO suggests that official recognition of the
activity, including maintaining records about it, would be extremely useful
in assessing, for example, the health impacts of the sector, the scope and
magnitude of labour market policies needed to deal with workers in the
sector and the possibilities for extending the taxation net to cover many of
the lucrative activities associated with it. It is also important to
recognize that policies for the promotion of tourism, the export of female
labour for overseas employment, the promotion of rural-urban migration to
provide cheap labour for export-oriented industrialization, etc., combined
with growing income inequalities and the lack of social safety nets, could
all indirectly contribute to the growth of the sex sector.
The Health Aspect: The ILO warns that "the health dimensions of the sex
sector are too serious and urgent to ignore." While awareness of the
HIV/AIDS threat is high, state agencies may still keep their distance from
the sex sector. "Any health programme targeting the sector cannot cover only
the prostitutes. Measures should also be directed towards clients,
especially since the chain of transmission from the sex sector to the
population involves clients who also have unprotected sex with their spouses
or others."
* * * * *
* The Sex Sector: The economic and social bases of prostitution in Southeast
Asia edited by Lin Lean Lim, International Labour Office, Geneva, 1998. ISBN
92-2-109522-3. Price: 35 Swiss francs.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
----
For further information, please contact Bureau of Public Information
(PRESSE) at:
Tel: +41.22.799.7940 or Fax: +41.22.799.8577.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
----
Copyright 1998 International Labour Organization (ILO)
Disclaimer
webinfo@ilo.org
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
----
 This page was created by CL. It was approved by KMK. It was last updated on
19 August 1998.
-----Original Message-----
From: Marie Enedy <enedy@ilowbo.org>
To: Multiple recipients of list <stop-traffic@solar.cini.utk.edu>
Date: 09 October 1998 21:17
Subject: ILO Report on Sex Sector wins award

>10 October 1998
>
>ILO Report on Sex Sector Receives Prestigious Publishing Prize
>at Frankfurt Book Fair
>
> FRANKFURT (ILO News) * A prestigious publishing prize, the 1998
International Nike Award, has been awarded to Ms. Lin Lean Lim of the
International Labour Office (ILO) for a recently published study on the sex
industry in Southeast Asia.
>
> The prize was launched in 1997 by feminist writer Shere Hite at the
Frankfurt Book Fair to honour nonfiction writing by women which contributes
to the advancement of thinking about the situation of women in the world.
The ILO publication was chosen by a jury including women from five
continents, all of whom are renowned for their writings and activism.
>
> The ILO study examines the social and economic forces driving the growth
of the sex industry in four Southeast Asian countries: Indonesia, Malaysia,
the Philippines and Thailand. It says that the provision of sexual services
has assumed the dimensions of a full-blown commercial sector, one that
provides direct and indirect employment to millions of workers and
contributes substantially to national incomes throughout the region.
>
> She said that *the growing scale of prostitution raises alarming
questions, not only about public health, morality and gender discrimination,
but about the basic human rights of the ever-increasing numbers of
commercial sex workers, most of whom would appear to enter the business
willingly, but many of whom are forced, trafficked, tricked or exploited
into sex work.* She said that migrant women were a particularly vulnerable
group and evidence abounds of *ruthlessly efficient international networks
directing trafficking of migrant prostitutes throughout Asia and beyond.*
>
> While the conditions of adult sex workers differ greatly, ranging from
freely chosen and highly remunerative to exploitation and virtual slavery,
*there is no such ambiguity concerning child prostitution,* which is
considered as a much more serious problem than adult prostitution.
>
> The report estimates that anywhere between 0.25 per cent and 1.5 per cent
of the total female population in the study countries are engaged in
prostitution. Related activities (including the numerous bars, hotels,
entertainment facilities and tourist agencies that thrive on prostitution),
employ literally millions more workers. Large segments of the population in
Southeast Asia * notably the rural-poor families who often send their
daughters to work as prostitutes * rely upon remittances from prostitution
for their well-being if not for their outright survival. However, in spite
of the size and economic importance of prostitution, it is almost entirely
unregulated and goes unrecognised in official statistics, development plans
and government budgets of almost all countries worldwide.
>
> The report emphasizes the economic bases of prostitution, highlighting the
strong economic incentives that drive women to enter the sector, despite the
social stigma and danger attached to the work Sex work is often better paid
than most of the options available to young, often uneducated women. The
report also highlights the many vested economic interests that derive profit
from the activities rather than the women and children who are the ones who
are commercially sexually exploited. The report stresses that in order to
come to terms with the problems of prostitution, it is necessary to tackle
these various vested interests. These include a wide range of social actors,
including the families of the women and children who depend on the revenues
generated by prostitution and who sometimes sell their children into
prostitution, the various sex establishments which include large swathes of
the entertainment and travel & tourism industries and corrupt officials
without which int!
>ernational trafficking networks could not operate with impunity.
>
>
> To purchase *The Sex Sector* call (301) 638-3152 or send a check in the
amount of $24.95 (plus postage and handling of $4.50 for the first book plus
$1.00 for each additional copy) to:
>ILO Publications Center
>P.O. Box 753
>Waldorf, MD 20604-0753
>


New Message Reply Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Sun May 23 1999 - 13:43:53 EDT