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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Containing Commercial Sex to Designated Red Light Areas: An idea past its prime?

"It's only polite really if you knock an animal on the head to eat it all: tripe, heart, feet, ears, head, tail. It's all good stuff," - Fergus Henderson

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Containing Commercial Sex to Designated Red Light Areas: An idea past its prime?

"Singapore’s pragmatic approach towards prostitution hinges on the premise that if only select areas operated prostitution services that could be monitored and regulated, crime syndicates and other problematic criminal elements could be kept out of the trade. This premise, however, has come under challenge...

In 2005, then- Minister for Home Affairs, Wong Kan Seng, commented that a 37 per cent increase in arrests for vice between 2002 and 2004, was in part due to liber alised visa policies introduced to support Singapore’s tourism efforts . This tradeoff between boosting tourism and policing the borders was again highlighted in 2009 by then-Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs, Prof Ho Peng Kee, when he said, “about 190,000 tourists entering Singapore weekly. It is possible to tighten up further on checks and screening on female tourists but this will cause delays and inconvenience and hamper our efforts to promote tourism”...

Another reason for the proliferation of red-light areas outside of the DRAs could be that the latter is unable to contain demand and supply. According to a 2000 research study, there seems to be a cap on the number of sanctioned brothels in Singapore, which may have led to intensified efforts to operate illegal set-ups. The study also noted that brothels in DRAs other than Geylang (such as Keong Siak and Desker Road) have been declining in numbers over the years, due to urban renewal processes...

Others have also hypothesised that the types of sexual services offered in sanctioned brothels are too limited to meet the desires of different market segments. For instance, men who prefer more discretion may opt to respond to online advertisements or postings instead of visiting a highly visible brothel in a known DRA. Others, who prefer the ‘thrill of the chase’, may gravitate towards KTVs, bars and lounges where they would have to charm the hostesses into selling sexual services to them. The proliferation of illegal red-light districts and hubs could thus be a ‘black market’ counterpart of the limited legal market, offering more options to the end user...

In the United States... According to American sociologist Ronald Weitzer, “Legislators fear being branded as ‘condoning’ prostitution and see no political advantage in any kind of liberalization”...

Both the 1990 and 2005 World Values Survey revealed that the Netherlands was more tolerant of prostitution than most other European nations, and national polls similarly confirm that the Dutch largely perceive prostitution as an acceptable job...

The Dutch approach has its share of successes and failures. As a whole, the managed, legal prostitution sector is believed to be larger than the illegal sector, and illegal actors are rare in the legal venues thanks to stringent inspections. Almost all workers in licensed brothels and escort agencies have been paying their taxes in full...

New Zealand has in place a more liberal policy towards prostitution. In 2003, the country decriminalised the sex trade by passing the Prostitution Reform Act (PRA). The PRA’s objectives included creating a framework to safeguard the rights of sex workers; promote the welfare and occupational health and safety of sex workers; contribute to public health; and prohibit persons under 18 years of age from entering the trade. The PRA also established a certification regime for brothel operators. Under the PRA, sex workers were allowed to work relatively freely, either at home, in brothels, or even on the street.

A study published by the New Zealand government in 2008 indicated that the policy has worked to empower sex workers. Over 60 per cent of sex workers felt they had more power to refuse clients than they did before the PRA was passed , and only a small margin were either under the legal age of 18 or reported being pressured into working against their will. Sex workers also reported that they felt more able to report incidents of violence to the police after the passing of the PRA.

As for initial criticisms that the PRA would result in a burgeoning of the sex industry and growth in numbers of streetwalkers, the study conclude d that the enactment of the PRA has had little impact on the numbers of people working in the sex industry, or on the number of street-based sex workers"
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