Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Effects of Prostitution

I was sharing with a friend of mine about the organization I visited in Cambodia once. And this friend of mine, a truly wonderfully kind person, said, "You have to understand - for these women in poor countries, prostitution is their only way to earn money. At least they have a way to get some income."

I've heard that from so many people.... And once upon a time, I echoed the same sentiments. "Well, at least they have a job. Otherwise they would starve."

I guess everything changed when I became a Christian and really understood what sex was meant for - a union that God meant between husbands and wives. And that the effects of sleeping with someone that you are not tied to, as a husband or a wife, were severe.

I am NOT shaking a wagging finger of, "You wicked man/ woman for having sex outside marriage" to any prostitute. I would not and never will, because I have met many of them. I have talked to them.

And maybe that's why, I feel such a deep pity for what they go through on the streets.

I wonder if my friends who tell me so seriously, "At least they have a way to get some income" know any prostitutes at all? Are there any of them who have friends amongst the 'Women of the Night', gigolos or transvestites?

Because prostitution is not the normal sexual activity between husband and wife.

I searched through the Net to see if I could find anything on the effects of prostitution on a woman. This is what I found (I've edited for brevity)...

"Health Effects of Prostitution, Janice G. Raymond

The health consequences to women from prostitution are the same injuries and infections suffered by women who are subjected to other forms of violence against women. The physical health consequences include: injury (bruises, broken bones, black eyes, concussions). A 1994 study conducted with 68 women in Minneapolis/St.Paul who had been prostituted for at least six months found that half the women had been physically assaulted by their purchasers, and a third of these experienced purchaser assaults at least several times a year. 23% of those assaulted were beaten severely enough to have suffered broken bones. Two experienced violence so vicious that they were beaten into a coma. Furthermore, 90% of the women in this study had experienced violence in their personal relationships resulting in miscarriage, stabbing, loss of consciousness, and head injuries (Parriott, Health Experiences of Twin Cities Women Used in Prostitution).

The sex of prostitution is physically harmful to women in prostitution. STDs (including HIV/AIDS, chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, human papilloma virus, and syphilis) are alarmingly high among women in prostitution. Only 15 % of the women in the Minneapolis/St. Paul study had never contracted one of the STDs, not including AIDS, most injurious to health (chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrheal, herpes). General gynecological problems, but in particular chronic pelvic pain and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), plague women in prostitution.. The Minneapolis/St. Paul study reported that 31% of the women interviewed had experienced at least one episode of PID which accounts for most of the serious illness associated with STD infection. Among these women, there was also a high incidence of positive pap smears, several times greater than the Minnesota Department of Health’s cervical cancer screening program for low and middle income women. More STD episodes can increase the risk of cervical cancer.

Another physical effect of prostitution is unwanted pregnancy and miscarriage. Over two-thirds of the women in the Minneapolis/St. Paul study had an average of three pregnancies during their time in prostitution, which they attempted to bring to term. Other health effects include irritable bowel syndrome, as well as partial and permanent disability.

The emotional health consequences of prostitution include severe trauma, stress, depression, anxiety, self-medication through alcohol and drug abuse; and eating disorders. Almost all the women in the Minneapolis/St. Paul study categorized themselves as chemically-addicted. Crack cocaine and alcohol were used most frequently. Ultimately, women in prostitution are also at special risk for self-mutilation, suicide and homicide. 46% of the women in the Minneapolis/St. Paul study had attempted suicide, and 19% had tried to harm themselves physically in other ways.

More succinctly, women in prostitution suffer the same broken bones, concussions, STDs, chronic pelvic pain, and extreme stress and trauma that women who have been battered, raped and sexually abused endure. In fact, the case can be made that women in prostitution -- because they are subject to being battered, raped and sexually abused all at the same time over an extensive period of time -- suffer these health consequences more intensively and consistently. For example, in another survey of 55 victims/survivors of prostitution who used the services of the Council for Prostitution Alternative in Portland, Oregon, 78% were victims of rape by pimps and male buyers an average of 49 times a year; 84% were the victims of aggravated assault and were thus horribly beaten, often requiring emergency room attention and hospitalization; 53% were victims of sexual abuse and torture; and 27% were mutilated (Documentation available from the Council for Prostitution Alternatives)."

So, you tell me - prostitution is the only option for these women and therefore we should let the violence and degradation continue?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

China Blue

I was watching a documentary called China Blue yesterday. It's about Chinese migrant workers in a jeans-making factory.

In this factory, the workers work from 8a.m. to 2a.m., 7 days a week making jeans. At night they cram into dormitories housing 12 workers a dorm.

All their meals and dorm rent are deducated form their salaries. And as little Jasmine - the 17 year old worker in the show says - they earn 'half a yuan an hour' - about RM0.20.

Little Jasmine doesn't dare fall sick in case she is fired from work. She struggles to stay awake as day after day she works till the wee hours of the morning.

I thought about all the times I'd gone with my friends to buy cheap jeans. Actually, all my jeans are really cheap - none of them cost more than RM30+. We joke a lot about China-quality products as we browse through the shelves and say to one another with a shudder, "Wah... they pay the workers so little in China, that's why the clothes so cheap." Then we silently give thanks that we were not born in China, and continue browsing.

I really didn't realise though how much the Chinese migrant workers suffer nor how little they actually earn - that their pay is so miserly, it would be better for them to beg here in Malaysia. I'm sure our homeless earn more than RM0.20 per hour from begging! Malaysians are kind people.

There was even a little 14 year old girl working in the factory - small and sweet-faced. She has to work instead of study in order to earn money for her family back home in the village. Will her life be just that - scrimping and saving and working like a slave to "send money home to my family"?

Little Jasmine went to sleep in her dormitory with all her clothes and even her marshmallow jacket on just to keep warm. Bet the factory doesn't pay for heating in order to save money.

As the boss of the factory ruefully admits, the prices dealers are willing to pay are so low, he has to make his workers work long hours and pay them a pittance in order to make any profit at all.

What can be done to make a difference? I believe nothing will change as long as an affluent world shuts our eyes to the needs of others just so we can have our own happiness and comforts.

And it's no use saying, "It's a good thing there are these kind of factories at all, otherwise life would be even harder for those in China."

Yes, life could be harder - but life could be made easier too if we as a society are willing to pay a fair price for goods. It would mean that we would have less material things, but isn't it worth it to move over a little bit and give up a little bit so that every human being can have a decent life?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

And I Will Run To You

Kandysile is the beautiful girl in the upper right hand corner

I will never forget the last time I heard this song...

It was on the Oprah show and Oprah was visiting an orphanage in South Africa. They brought out a beautiful little 11 year old girl called Kandysile to Oprah. Kandysile kept her beautiful head down the entire time....

The orphanage director explained that, when Kandysile's parents died of AIDS, neighbourhood men came into her house and raped her every night. She kept her head down because she felt so much shame at what had happened.

But when they did a follow-up on Kandysile, this beautiful little girl sang this song...

I was so surprised to hear an Australian song coming out from this little girl's lips :> But it brought tears to my eyes to see how Daddy God had taken this broken little girl into His arms and was healing her....

Your eyes are on the sparrow
And Your hands they comfort me
From the ends of the earth
To the depths of my heart
Let Your mercy and strength be seen

You called me to Your purpose
As angels understand
For Your glory
May You draw all men
As Your love and grace demand

And I will run to You
To Your words of truth
Not by might, not by power
But by the Spirit of God
Yes, I will run the race
Till I see Your face
Oh Let me live in the glory
Of Your grace

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What will her future be?

I was lying awake thinking about this little girl this morning. She was rescued from a house when she was just 6 years old. Her mom was in the house too ... a house strewn with animal faeces, old and rotting food, cigarette butts, cockroaches ... And this little girl in a corner wearing a dirty diaper (at 6 years old) ... She couldn't speak and she couln't walk... she was only 43 pounds.. a 'profoundly neglecetd' child, as they termed her.

When they took her to hospital, they said she was just like a wild little animal - kicked and grunted - and would only feed from a bottle because she couldn't feed herself.

The welfare department had been alerted about this child before and had visited but deemed nothing was needed... until it was too late.

The foster family who eventually took her in set up a website - - and I was just browsing through the photos but it made me sad to see her eyes. Even grown up, her eyes look empty.

I wonder if she'll ever be normal. I didn't know malnourishment and neglect could produce such terrible results.... I've met neglected children and abused children, including those who've become what we term 'terencat akal' due to abuse... But just plain neglected... this child has turned out like this.

I wonder what will happen to her.

At 6 years old after being rescued and cleaned up in hospital.

Fostered and then adopted.