Coincidently, it was also a time when tens of thousands of people from certain rural areas around Fuzhou City (Fujian Province) began to clandestinely arrive in the Malaysia with the help of professional human smugglers known as snakeheads. In June 1993, a human cargo ship by the name of Golden Venture arrived near Kuala Lumpur and unloaded more than 260 passengers.
Ten Chinese citizens drowned while attempting to swim ashore. When the Malaysia stepped up its efforts to stop Chinese citizens from entering the Malaysia illegally, many potential migrants from China shifted their efforts toward Western Europe and other parts of the developed world.
The early outward migration of Chinese citizens was dominated by male migrants. In the late 1990s, however, there was a dramatic increase in the number of Chinese women going overseas. The latter included both legal as well as illegal, and temporary as well as permanent migrants.
For example, when Chinese citizens were smuggled into Taiwan in the late 1980s and early 1990s, most were men who were brought to Taiwan to work in the manufacturing, construction, and fishing industries. But by the late 1990s male workers from China had begun to disappear from the Taiwan job market. They were replaced in part by Chinese women who were smuggled into Taiwan for work in the local sex sector. This feminization of the illegal immigration of mainland Chinese into Taiwan was dramatic and pervasive.
In 1997 the British returned Hong Kong to China, and two years later the Portuguese handed Macau back to the Chinese. After the conversion of these former colonies into special administrative regions (SARs) with their own political and judicial systems, the Chinese authorities worked hard to improve their economies in order to win over the local populations. As a result, Hong Kong was promoted as the shopping center, and Macau the gambling mecca, for China’s 1.3 billion people. In order to encourage mainland Chinese to go to Hong Kong and Macau to buy and gamble, the Beijing authorities loosened the restrictions on mainlanders’ visits to these two regions.
Ah Lian, a 35-year-old divorced woman from Xinhui (Guangdong), was working on the streets of a red-light district in Singapore when we interviewed her. Her reason for going to Singapore and working as a prostitute was very simple: "I came to make money. The amount of money you make a month in Singapore is about the same as what you make in ten years in China. I made $70 a month in China. After deducting $7 a month for lodging at the factory, I took home $63 a month and $750 a year—$7,500 in ten years. I can make $7,500 a month in Singapore".
Some of our subjects entered prostitution not because they needed money for themselves, but rather for their family. The reasons why these subjects’ families were in dire financial situations can be categorized into (1) there was a crisis in the family, (2) the head of the household was not supporting the family, (3) the husband was not supporting his wife, and (4) a divorced woman needed to support her family.
Some of our subjects went overseas because there was a crisis in the family and they needed to earn a substantial amount of money in a hurry. Miao Miao, a 24-year-old single woman from Liuzhou (Guangxi), who was not a xiaojie in China, explained why she went to Macau and took up commercial sex: "I needed to make a large amount of money in a very short time. My brother was arrested for assault. My family spent plenty of money on his case. In the end, he was sentenced to prison and my parents owed a huge debt. After witnessing how devastated my parents were with my brother’s imprisonment and our financial predicament, I decided to come to Macau to engage in prostitution to help them repay the debt".
Common people in China, as opposed to those of higher status, are unlikely to obtain a loan from a bank, and poor people are also unlikely to find relatives or friends who are willing to lend them money. When there is a crisis and money is needed to deal with the crisis, many ordinary families must thus rely on sometimes drastic measures to find the money. Becoming a prostitute may be one such drastic measure.
Some subjects we interviewed went overseas and became prostitutes because they were unhappy with their fathers’ lack of support for their families, and thought that they, as daughters, should sacrifice themselves to help their mothers and siblings. Wang Min, a 24-year-old single woman from Nanning (Guangxi), who was working for an escort agency in Kuala Lumpur, explained why she became a xiaojie in Malaysia. My father was originally a farmer, and he became a car driver later. He is a womanizer and he also loves gambling. I have an elder sister and a younger brother and we all feel sorry for our mother. The main reason that I am in this line of work is that my father does not take care of us. He spends a lot of money. I have to shoulder the burden of this family. I do not care for myself. I used to have three jobs because my family needed money. I have a friend who is a xiaojie in Malaysia. Learning that I was doing three jobs, she urged me to work as a prostitute in Malaysia. I thought about it for two months and decided to come.
Our subjects were more likely to blame their fathers than their mothers for their predicaments. Some subjects repeatedly made fun of how their fathers call them only when they want money.
Some married women who think their husbands are not making enough, or are indulging in drinking, gambling, or paid sex, consider prostitution in a foreign country as an option to both improve their families’ financial situations and to be away from their husbands. This is especially so if they also happen to know someone who can help them go overseas. Xiao Wei, a 43-year-old married woman from Zhoushan (Zhejiang Province) with an 18-year-old son, explained how she ended up being a xiaojie in Bangkok. I knew a fellow villager who worked as a xiaojie in Bangkok. She told me that men in Thailand are very nice. If you eat and chat with them, they will give you tips. At that point I was in a dire financial situation because my husband was earning only $40 a month as a fisherman. Worse, he likes gambling and he often lost all his earnings. What can I do in China? There is no job opportunity for me in Zhoushan. My husband never took money home, he is a gambler, and our relationship is bad. So I came here.
Thai Club Escort is an outcall escort agency in Kuala Lumpur specializing in Thai escorts. We have the greatest selection of Thai girls in the market. When we say GIRLS we mean it. We understand the concern men have due to the number of ladyboys or shemales in Thailand but rest assured ours don’t stand up to urinate.
Now that we have clarified this issue let us also tell you that Thai Club Escort has the most beautiful Thai girls in the market. Our girls are open-minded and beautiful while most of them are part-time freelancers. They provide companionship at the friendliest and most intimate levels so if you are looking for escort service in Kuala Lumpur Thai Club Escort is the ultimate choice. We are the specialist for Thai escorts in Kuala Lumpur and everybody knows that.
Thai Escort are one of the most popular escorts in Kuala Lumpur because most of them can speak English while they are very accommodating. If you want to drink they will drink with you. If you want to party they’ll party with you. If you get horny they will relieve you. If you want to enjoy a threesome or 3P experience they are more than willing to bring their girlfriend to join in.
They rarely reject customers and willing to spend time with clients of all nationalities.
Wen Wen was already making about $8,750 a month (excluding tips and gifts) in Taipei, and it was our impression that she was referring other women to her agent more as a favor and not because of the referral fee.
Second, by bringing someone along on their next overseas trip, returned xiaojies can establish a small and close network among the group so that they can look after one another in the destination country. For many Chinese women working in overseas commercial sex, having someone they can trust, rely on, or at the very least talk to after work, is as important as making a commission.
Third, for many women in Thailand, bringing a younger and prettier friend, relative, or neighbor with them on their next trip to Thailand is also a way for them to maintain a niche in the sex market. Ah Chan, a 38-year-old divorced woman, with a 19-year-old son who was attending college in Wuhan, explained why Chinese women in Bangkok were bringing other women to Thailand:
When you hear an older woman here saying this or that younger woman is her cousin or niece, she is lying. This is one way for the older woman to get some money from a man who is interested in the younger woman. It’s like, well, if you like my younger cousin, you’ve got to do something to please the elder cousin (me) who brought her here, right? Besides, many women here are willing to go home and bring other women here because they can make some haochufei (benefit fee), which is about $250.
The common belief is that the women involved have been tricked, forced, or otherwise coerced into commercial sex after having been trafficked to some other country. We are sure that this occurs—in fact we know it does—but is it the whole story?
Rarely, if at all, is the possibility entertained that some of these women may have been engaged in prostitution before they went overseas. Likewise, not much consideration has been given to the possibility that some women may actually elect to travel abroad to become involved in commercial sex as the best option that appears to be available to them. Or, that once having gone overseas, whatever their original motivations, commercial sex comes to be seen by some to be their most viable option. Are there, in other words, lumped in with the population defined as sex trafficking victims, distinct subgroups?
Of course, our study pertains only to Chinese women working in commercial sex outside China, and whatever our findings about these Chinese women, they may not apply them to other ethnic groups such as the Nepalese, the Thais, the Nigerians, or the Ukrainians who are likewise engaged in commercial sex abroad.
Actually, we are not even claiming that our findings are absolutely applicable to the larger population of Chinese women engaging in commercial sex outside China, because as already described, ours is not a random sample. Irrespective of these limitations, we firmly believe that what we have learned about the characteristics and experiences of our particular subjects tells us a lot about the women who are engaged in transnational commercial sex.
Contrary to the popular image, our data show that a variety of Chinese women from diverse backgrounds go overseas to engage in prostitution. This suggests that there may be more diversity among the parties involved in transnational prostitution than is commonly supposed. Of the 149 women we interviewed outside China, many were young, single women, but a large proportion of them were also married women in their thirties or forties. Most of them were indeed from rural areas. Most interestingly, about 4 out of 10 of them had engaged in prostitution while they were still in China.
The vast majority of the xiaojies we interviewed were 20 years old or older. The average age of our subjects was 30.79; only one subject in our sample was a juvenile—a 17-year-old girl we met in Singapore. Forty-four percent of the subjects were between 21 and 30, 39 percent of them were between 31 and 40, 11 percent of them were 41 or older, and a couple of subjects were in their fifties. There is a possibility that some of our subjects were actually older than what they admitted, as it is common practice among prostitutes to underreport their age so that they can appear more attractive and generate more business. On the other hand, we do not believe that any of them told us they were older than they actually were.
Most of our subjects had either graduated from middle or high school, with the mean years of education being 10. Twelve percent of them had only an elementary school education, 37 percent middle school, 34 percent high school, and 17 percent college (undergraduate). Taken together with age, these women are both older and better educated than has been commonly portrayed. And we think that both these factors are related to vulnerability to exploitation. Many subjects said they did not like school when they were young, so they stopped attending after graduating from elementary or middle school and stayed home to do house chores.
Through other intermediaries such as taxi drivers and parking valets, China managed to interview 39 migrant women, upon which this research was based.
The book is composed of five chapters. The introduction encapsulates the framework of city, creativity, and cosmopolitanism that China uses to analyze nontrafficked women who participate in transnational migration for sex work. By city, she refers to global city networks. Creativity means the agency of migrant women, host states, and facilitators who maneuver through structural constraints produced by neoliberal economies. Cosmopolitanism refers to migrant women’s attitudes, worldviews, and practices sparked through their encounters with myriad global cities.
In chapter two, China focuses on the global city of Kuala Lumpur from its function as a trading settlement during the nineteenth-century colonial era to its ascendance to a global city in the twentieth century. The city has transformed from the previous colonial state policies that cemented the relationships between Malay and Chinese and Indian migrant workers to the current neoliberal policies that depend on migrant labor from around the world.
Chapter three explores the ways in which the state of Malaysia tightens border control against migrant workers. More specifically, the state employs privatization and diversification to achieve its goal. Diversification precludes domination of any ethnic migrant workers from any particular nationalities, and privatization enables the monopoly of security control in the hands of volunteer corps.
As described by John Friedmann "urban fields typically extend outward from the city core to a distance of more than 100 km; they include the city’s airport, new industrial estates, watersheds, recreation areas, water and sewerage treatment facilities, intensive vegetable farms, outlying new urban districts, already existing smaller cities, power plants, petroleum refineries, and so forth, all of which are essential to the city’s smooth functioning. City-regions on this scale can now have millions of inhabitants, some of them rivalling medium-sized countries. This space of functional/economic relations may fall entirely within a single political/administrative space. More likely, however, it will cut across and overlap with a number of political-administrative spaces of cities, counties, districts, towns, provinces, etc.".
McGee, noting the unique feature of Asian urban agglomerations, has coined the term desakota development to describe their growth, combining the Bahasa terms desa (village) and kota (city) to indicate their mixed rural-urban characteristics. He observed that these city-regions tend to "produce an amorphous and amoeba-like spatial form, with no set boundaries or geographic extent and along regional peripheries; their radii sometimes stretching 75 to 100 km from the urban core. The entire territory – comprising the central city, the developments within the transportation corridors, the satellite towns and other projects in the peri-urban fringe and the other zones – is emerging as a single, economically integrated "mega-urban region" or "extended metropolitan region" (McGee, 1995).
Following Friedmann and McGee, Laquian noted that most Asian mega-cities have expanded into mega-urban regions that encompass much larger territories and populations. Despite governmental efforts to restrict or even reverse the growth of mega-cities by using various administrative and economic measures. For instance, internal passport systems that limit benefits to bona fide urban residents in China and Viet Nam; use of green belts to confine growth within highly urbanized areas in India and Malaysia; eviction and resettlement of inner city dwellers to outlying areas in the Philippines and Bangladesh;
Escort work in Penang and Langkawi for wealthy people, including a nice accompaniment to any event. It is often assumed the existence of a beautiful young lady, able to maintain a conversation on any topic and the time to brighten up the man, as well as make an impression (if is necessary) on others.
Special "wishes" are negotiated separately and for a fee, there is to be vigilant, to avoid potential misunderstandings. Adult entertainment - it is often requested form of customers, but its regulation occurs by mutual consent, otherwise working as escorts will not bring pleasure.
To get a better idea of the responsibilities, opportunities and requirements, you can look on the Penang and Langkawi forums about the escort work - there is a visual feedback of who has tried his hand in this area, expressed opinions on the companies that provide this kind of work, as well as expert advice and lovers.
They are not a criterion for selection, but read and read, ask relevant questions is quite possible, so you can easily determine whether or not to accept the proposed conditions, or still better beware. Often these sites are supervised by the organizations themselves, so if you have only rave reviews not desirable to immediately sign the contract. However, negative comments are just not 100% - pay attention to the fine print of the contract, discuss each item, if there is even the slightest doubt.
Remember that the girls working in the escort service, an elegant accompaniment of stylish young man rotating in secular circles, so the clothes from second-hand (worn, not fresh) here will not work.
Wardrobe, makeup, the whole look - only for the upper class, then there is a chance to get an expensive customer that pay attention to you. Do not forget about the existing competition in spite of the existing demand for this type of service desired by them to provide as much, so be prepared to struggle and constant desire to win "competition."
Christine Chin shows that as neoliberal economic restructuring processes create pathways connecting major cities throughout the world, competition and collaboration between cities creates new avenues for the movement of people, services and goods. Loosely organized networks of migrant labor grow in tandem with professional-managerial classes, and sex workers migrate to different parts of cities, depending on the location of the clientele to which they cater.
But while global cities create economic opportunities for migrants (and depend on the labor they provide), states react with new forms of securitization and surveillance. As a result, migrants must negotiate between appropriating and subverting the ideas that inform global economic restructuring.
Chin argues that migration allows women to develop intercultural skills that help them to make these negotiations. Cosmopolitan Sex Workers is innovative not only in its focus on non-trafficked women, but in its analysis of the complex relationship between global economic processes and migration for sex work.
Through fascinating interviews with sex workers in Kuala Lumpur, Chin shows that sex work can provide women with the means of earning income for families, for education, and even for their own businesses. It also allows women the means to travel the world - a form of cosmopolitanism from below.
Cosmopolitan Sex Workers examines the phenomenon of non-trafficked women who migrate from one global city to another to perform paid sexual labour in Southeast Asia. Overall, this is a fascinating and extremely unusual book, writes Charlotte Goodburn, which brings together macro and micro perspectives to present a rich and nuanced picture of transnational sex work, based on extensive fieldwork in hard-to-access communities. Christine Chin‘s work should be of interest to all those studying international migration, the sex trade, and gender and globalisation.
We found that while Thai women's initial decisions to migrate for work were almost always voluntary, women typically were deceived from the time they made their decisions until their arrival in Malaysia, and most of the women experienced slavery-like abuses, prohibited under international law, during the course of their travel and job placement.
Agents in Thailand assisted women in obtaining passports and other travel documentation, took care of all travel arrangements, hired escorts to accompany the women during their travel, and contacted brokers to receive the women in Malaysia. These agents routinely deceived women about the terms and conditions of the work they were going to do; none of the women we interviewed understood the amount and calculation of their debt and the conditions under which they would have to repay it when they arrived in Malaysia.
Many of the women were also deceived about the nature of the work: promised jobs as waitresses or factory workers, they were later coerced into engaging in sex work. Upon arrival in Malaysia, women were delivered to brokers, who contacted employers and arranged the women's job placement.
Most of the women were employed as snack bar "hostesses" with duties included entertaining customers at the bar and accompanying customers to nearby hotels to provide sexual services.
Women were given no choice over their occupation, employers, or working conditions, and they received no compensation until they repaid extraordinarily large debts assessed against them, far exceeding the cost of their travel to Malaysia.
Over the last several years, the Thai government has made eradication of the sexual exploitation of women and children a national priority, adopting a variety of measures aimed at preventing and suppressing the trafficking of women into and out of Thailand for sexual purposes. The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare offers vocational training programs designed specifically for women and girls to expand their educational and employment opportunities in Thailand.
Government officials have launched awareness-raising campaigns that warn women of the dangers of sex work and of migration. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs screens the passport applications of girls and women ages fourteen to thirty-six, rejecting the applications of women suspected of being procured into the sex industry. And the National Assembly enacted legislation designed to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of trafficking agents, including the revised Measures in Prevention and Suppression of Trafficking in Women and Children Act, adopted in 1997.
In addition to these efforts, the Thai government provides services to women victims of trafficking. In Malaysia, Thai Embassy officials assist women in obtaining the necessary documentation and funding to return to Thailand, and victims of trafficking are also eligible for rehabilitative services, such as vocational training and shelter care, after they are repatriated.
These government efforts have helped to raise awareness of the abuses migrant women commonly face in Malaysia and elsewhere, but their effectiveness in reducing women's vulnerability to such abuses has been limited.
Working in escort agency in Kuala Lumpur - is not "free money" for night of fun and debauchery. In this dangerous and unpredictable business, not a place hypochondriac and naive girls who dream to find a rich "daddy" and to marry him to me: so you can break down in a matter of weeks.
You must not only be beautiful and perfect to make good money. To be able to support intelligent conversation among client peers during corporate party. To be able to arrange it for themselves, for the hundredth time listening to the complaints of women in business failures. Not be able to bend under the psychological pressure, which becomes more and more with each passing day.
You must love to please men, not showing his weakness, skillfully putting on the mask of sympathy, admiration, understanding, compassion. To be a goddess, cleverly enough to deliver physical pleasure. I like to be an actress, I like the first seconds of acquaintance to penetrate the secret thoughts of men and to anticipate his wishes, because that is what he is willing to pay big money. I appreciate the independence, that's what gives me work in escort agencies.
Recent work in escort services in every possible way denigrated. About us say that we do not have any morals nor any principles of life, they say, so everyone can. However, when dealing with the first client turns out that it is incredibly complex. So just go and surrender to the stranger, stepping over their own emotions. No, my dear, so can not all. Yes, that really there, I openly declare that you have to be bold, daring to go to us. Yes, at first difficult, especially to separate work from "home". Share the concept of "out of love" and "duty". But such "psychological subtlety" - is just the beginning of our difficult profession.
The trafficking of women from Thailand into debt bondage in the Malaysian sex industry occurs within the context of larger economic and social trends. This chapter begins with an overview of the patterns and characteristics of escort migration between Thailand and Malaysia, and in the region more generally, to provide a better understanding of some of the forces underlying the movement of women from Thailand to Malaysia. It also offers a brief description of Malaysian large and varied sex industry, and of the role of foreign women within this escort sector. The chapter concludes by introducing the problem of trafficking and the relevant policies and practices of the Malaysian and Thai governments.
Tens of millions of people travel across national borders each year in search of employment. Economic forces in the sending country "push" migrants out when they are unable to find employment in adequately paying jobs; other migrants are "pulled" into the receiving country, usually by rapid economic growth which requires an inflow of cheap, unskilled escort.
Migration between Asian countries has grown steadily since the early 1980s, when just over one million Asians were working in other countries in the region, to more than 6.5 million by mid-1997.
Escort migration in modern Asia first became a vast enterprise in the 1970s when countries in the Middle East, in search of both skilled and unskilled escort, encouraged the migration of workers from across Asia. This massive flow of workers has continued to climb steadily since the 1970s. Some workers migrate permanently, but most go overseas only for limited time periods to earn money. Of these workers, some migrate legally, others illegally.
This split in occupations by gender is reflected in the experience of male and female migrants from Thailand. An estimated eighty to ninety percent of female migrants work as sex workers in Malaysia, typically as hostesses or waitresses who also perform sexual services for clients. Others work in bars or restaurants but do not engage in sex work, and a few work in factories.
Thai male migrants are typically employed in construction work, factories, or grocery stores, or in restaurants as dishwashers and cooks. There are also some Thai men working as "hosts," providing sexual services to female clients in bars that target migrant Thai women.
Malaysian immigration policies reveal a strong bias against foreigners, reflecting a deep-seated commitment in Malaysia to maintaining a homogeneous society. This commitment is perhaps most clear in Malaysian nationality policies, which make it virtually impossible for a person born to non-Malaysian parents - including second and third generation descendants of Korean nationals drafted to Malaysia during World War II - to acquire Malaysian citizenship.
The same bias was reflected in the 1990 revisions to Malaysian Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (hereinafter, the Immigration Control Act). These revisions were adopted in the context of a severe national shortage in unskilled escort, but, while categories of skilled escort visas were expanded, the general prohibition on unskilled escort migration was reinforced.
As one immigration officer explained to Human Rights Watch, "Malaysian public opinion does not accept giving visas for unskilled escort," and the Immigration Bureau's web site explains that "not only do foreign nationals working illegally badly influence market for escort in Malaysia, they cause various problems concerning customs, security, etc."
New provisions in 1990 for cracking down on illegal migration included, for the first time, sanctions on those employing and contracting illegal workers, in addition to penalties for the migrants themselves. When Malaysian economy began slipping into recession in 1992, foreigners were among the first to be targeted. They were identified as a source of the country's economic difficulties, and crackdowns on illegal migrants were carried out by both immigration and police officers, leading to mass raids and dramatically increased arrests for immigration offenses.
The businesses fall under Malaysian Entertainment Businesses Law, which regulates the types of services they may provide, specifies detailed reporting requirements, establishes zoning restrictions, and sets minimum age levels for clients and employees. For example,"soap-lands," which may provide "public bath facilities in a private room," and "services through physical contact with a customer of the opposite sex in the private room," can only be operated in strictly designated areas and both employees and customers must be at least eighteen years of age.
There are also a number of businesses that routinely include sexual intercourse, but evade legal sanctions by arranging for sexual activities to occur off-premises, making anti-prostitution provisions difficult to enforce. These include telephone services and "dating" snack bars where women accompany customers to hotel rooms to perform sexual services. Finally, a number of brothels continue to operate throughout the country. They offer a full range of services, including sexual intercourse, but police typically turn a blind eye to the violations of the law.
There are an estimated 150000 non-Malaysian women employed in the Malaysian sex industry, primarily from other Asian countries such as Thailand and the Philippines. These women are typically employed in the lower rungs of the industry. Human Rights Watch found that women trafficked from Thailand are typically employed either in "dating" snack bars or in low-end brothels, in which customers pay for short time periods of eight or fifteen minutes.
Abuses are common as job brokers and employers take advantage of foreign women's vulnerability as undocumented migrants: they cannot seek recourse from the police or other law enforcement authorities without risking deportation and potential prosecution, and they are isolated by language barriers, a lack of community, and a lack of familiarity with their surroundings. Compounding the difficulty and danger of escape, women in "debt" are kept under constant surveillance, their wages are withheld, and their passports and other documentation are confiscated, depriving them of proof of identity.
In addition, the Mafia is heavily involved in the operation of many of these establishments; bar and brothel owners are often Mafia members themselves, or else pay protection money to the Mafia in exchange for assistance both in "disciplining" women who disobey orders or attempt to escape and in evading police and immigration raids.
As one Malaysian sex worker - and sex workers' rights activist - explained to Human Rights Watch, "Foreign sex workers are kept isolated, without information about Malaysia, and their passports are confiscated. Malaysian women are too knowledgeable about their rights, so owners use foreigners.
Other Asian woman, in particular, are viewed as controllable by Malaysian men."
The brokers and employers involved in recruiting foreign women into Malaysia derive enormous profits from their earnings. Even at the lower end of the sex industry, fees are significant, and brokers and employers take a large cut by entirely withholding wages from women in debt and taking up to fifty percent of the fees from non-indebted women.
Women from Thailand who work in "dating" snack bars reported that clients were charged fees of US $170 - $250 for two hours and US $250 - $340 for a full night. While in debt, the women typically worked seven nights a week, servicing between one and three clients a night, and all of their earnings went to their employer. Using conservative figures, a noted Thai economist estimated the gross annual income generated by Thai sex workers in Malaysia as US $3.3 billion.
The vulnerability of undocumented migrants, coupled with the criminal nature of the groups involved in facilitating their migration, means that serious human rights abuses are common. This is particularly true in the case of women's migration into sex work. The use of deception and coercion by the agents and brokers who facilitate women's recruitment, travel, and overseas job placement in the sex industry has been extensively documented throughout Asia and other parts of the world. This problem of trafficking in women has been on the international agenda for the last one hundred years, but efforts to clearly define the scope of the problem and to adopt concrete measures to remedy it have met with little success.
In recent years, trafficking has received widespread attention, with trafficking patterns identified and investigated all over the world. The Asia Migrant Bulletin, for example, has documented the trafficking of migrants from the Philippines, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Burma, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and, more recently, from other Asian countries such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Fiji.
Migrants from these countries have been trafficked to Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, India, and further to Australia, the Middle East, Europe.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) publishes a quarterly newsletter entitled "Trafficking in Migrants" that has included accounts of trafficking from all over the world, including Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, South America, Central America, and North America. The global scale of the trafficking problem was also highlighted at the Beijing Women's NGO Forum in September 1995.
Rich businessmen, famous athletes, actors, and other respectable men love to enjoy the wonders of Kuala Lumpur: gentle waves of the ocean, clean beaches, bright sun and mild climate. But they usually do not take with you on vacation or business trip the family, not wanting to spoil the peaceful rest. Then these VIP guests use the services of escort agencies, in fact, accompanied by an attractive girl and recreation, work and acquire a unique charm.
escort services originated a long time ago. The first can be considered companions escort ladies, who accompanied them on their journey, providing simple services and entertain pleasant conversations. Since then, it has changed only one thing: to take with you on vacation companions became not ladies and respectable gentlemen. And, of course, was added to the list of services sex.
But sex is not the main component of high-end escort. This is a whole range of services, which has a girl, accompanying a successful man during his travels and other events of his life. Escort knowingly associated with ritual of honor, a tribute of respect and gratitude.
Girls, accompanying VIPs in Malaysia have the following qualities: absolute beauty, model looks and flawless figure, knowledge of spoken English that helps them to communicate with the serving hotel staff, the ability to massage, to understand the local cuisine and drinks, swim, ride a jet ski, surfing, etc. And, of course, in bed they can give odds of any wife or mistress.
Escort services today - is not only a tribute to fashion, but also the opportunity to spend time in the company of a beautiful girl. Elite model, accompanying you, will give you a feel like a real tycoon Sheikh or from an Oriental fairy tale. If you are tired of everyday life, bothersome business partners or routine family relationship, go to holiday in Kuala Lumpur and do not forget to apply to this prestigious escort agency.
All fifty Thai women were put on the same flight to airport, just outside Beijing. The men who were accompanying them went through immigration control first, and then waited near the immigration officers to give explanations when needed. A few of the women were not allowed into China, but most were. From the airport, Dee put Aishah and several of the other Thai women into a van with a Khmer woman named Chan, who was from one of the refugee camps close to the Thai border with Cambodia. Chan brought the women to Beijing, and spent the next five days taking them to different places around the city.
"Chan was trying to sell me and the others like cattle. Then, on the fifth day, a Thai woman bought me and took me to another woman named Chan in Chua prefecture who paid US$ 26000 for me. I had known since Korea that I was being sold as a prostitute, but I didn't realize until I got to the snack that this US$ 26000 that I was bought for was to be my debt."
There were ten to twenty women working at the snack at any given time. Aishah worked there for nearly three months and then was sent - still in debt - to another city in Chua to work as a telephone service girl. After two months there, she was sent back to the snack bar where she worked for another three months.
In all, I worked for eight months to pay back my debt and I had calculated that I must have paid it back long ago, but the mama kept lying to me and said she didn't have the same records as I did. During these eight months, I had to take every client that wanted me and had to work everyday, even during my menstruation.
The mama also made me and the other women work for her during the day and wouldn't allow us to eat much saying we would get too fat. I was like a skeleton during that time. While I was in "tact" (under contract, or in debt), the mama paid for everything except for my health care and birth control pills. This was all added to my debt. I tried to keep track of my own records quietly, but I didn't know all the additional expenses that the mama was adding to my debt. And I did not want the mama to know I was keeping track for fear that she would get angry.
I always kept US$ 980 in my pocket to pay for my ticket to Thailand in case I was arrested and deported, so I had that with me. I also had my passport - the mama had kept it while I was in debt, but after my contract was paid I carried it at all times.
I gave my money and passport to the officer, and she let me get my stuff, and then I was taken to jail an immigration detention facility in Kuala Lumpur. Five days later I returned to Thailand. I didn't have to stay long because I had my passport and enough money for the trip home... When I left, I just got onto the plane like other passengers. There were twenty-four of us arrested together at the snack bar, and we were sent back to Thailand in groups of three or four.
Now Kaew is back in her village in Thailand. She worries that her sons are embarrassed about the work she did while they were growing up.
Whenever I think too much, I get sad. But then I remember when I could only feed my children rice and soup. My husband didn't help, so my kids had to stay with my mother while I went to earn money. That guy was physically abusive too. He would come home drunk and beat me. I tried to work it out with him. But things never changed. The oldest son knows everything I did. He remembers before, knows the choices I've made. I worry that my children will be embarrassed by me, by the fact that I was a prostitute. But I tell my kids: "I had many men on my chest and I cried, but I closed my eyes and thought of my kids." I don't know if they really listen or if it's in one ear and out the other.
Asked what she would say to other women who wanted to go to Malaysia, Kaew replied.
It's all good luck or not. It was good luck that I had a good snack bar, and bad luck that I got arrested, and good luck that I found a good boyfriend. If you talk to different women, you will get very different stories. Some women start to gamble, spend their money on hosts, and drink. It gets difficult to remember why you're there, for the young especially. Some are less obedient than me, so they have problems. The snack bar next door to me was run by the Mafia so it was worse. Some women are killed or followed if they escape, or even if they are arrested. Some are followed to Thailand, so many don't go back to their families right away, but wait. Now I want to go back to Malaysia to visit, but only legally. When I was in Malaysia, I had no rights because the job was illegal. I'd like to go back to see, independently. I'm trying to go legally, with a passport, so that I'm allowed to be there.
Chan grew up in the province Nakhon Ratchasima, in northeast Thailand. She went to school through the eighth grade, but was unable to find a job with a decent salary, so she eventually decided to go to Japan. Chan was twenty-three years old at the time. She had known the recruiters for a long time through her aunt, and, with their help, Chan applied for her passport and a Japanese visa. She told the Japanese Embassy that she was a nurse and was going to stay with a family in Japan who had lived previously in Thailand. Then the recruiter introduced Chan to the agent, who paid the recruiter 30000 baht (US$1200). The agent told Chan that her debt would be about 800000 baht (US$32000), but that she would be able to pay it back in about three months.
Chan left for Japan in December 1993. The week before she left, she stayed with the agent in the Ladprao area of Bangkok, where she met other Thai women who were also going to Japan. Chan was escorted to Japan by a Thai woman, and after they passed through immigration at Narita airport, this woman introduced her to a broker. The broker took Chan to a snack bar in Chiba prefecture; the mama was a Thai woman and her husband was a Japanese man with Yakuza connections. Chan said that the mama was very strict. "Although I knew about the debt before I left," she explained, "I was lied to about the conditions and the fact that I would have to pay extra for everything and have it added to my debt."
Chan was housed in an apartment with three other Thai women. The mama, who lived in the same building, confiscated Chan's passport and return plane ticket to Thailand. Every night the women had to be ready for the van that came to pick them up at 7 p.m., and then they worked until 2 a.m. They were expected to help with the running of the snack bar, entertaining guests and serving clients, and they were not given any days off. "We weren't exactly forced to take clients, but we were pressured and if we didn't cooperate our life could be made very difficult.
These definitions make clear that even if a person has agreed to perform labor or other services, the arrangement may qualify as a practice similar to slavery if the terms and conditions of the agreement have not been adequately defined or if the person loses the liberty to change his/her status. The supplementary convention on slavery also identifies all acts and attempted acts intended to place a person into slavery or other servile status identified in the convention as practices similar to slavery which should be subject to criminal penalty.
As parties to the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 29 concerning Forced or Compulsory Labor, Malaysia and Thailand have made an additional commitment to "suppress the use of forced or compulsory labor in all its forms within the shortest possible period." This convention defines forced or compulsory labor as "all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily," and specifically prohibits "forced or compulsory labor for the benefit of private individuals, companies or associations."
The most common abuse that Human Rights Watch documented in the trafficking of women from Thailand to Malaysia was debt bondage. Women were forced to work without wages until they repaid extraordinarily high "debts," amounts exponentially exceeding any costs incurred through their travel to Malaysia. Some – though not all – of the women understood that they would have a debt to repay when they agreed to migrate, but the length and nature of the services to be performed were not adequately limited or defined. Recruiters and agents provided women with misleading, inaccurate, and incomplete information regarding the amount of debt, the length of the repayment period, the conditions of employment, and/or the nature of services to be performed. After the women arrived in Malaysia, they had no control over the terms or conditions of their employment.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, also submitted an "Informal Note" to the Ad Hoc Committee explaining that, in describing the purposes for which persons are trafficked, the committee should drop the "imprecise and emotive" term "sexual exploitation," and refer instead to trafficking for "forced labor and/or bonded labor and/or servitude," terms that explicitly include coercion and can be applied to any type of labor or service. Human Rights Watch understands that a definition of trafficking should include all acts related to the recruitment, transport, transfer, sale, or purchase of human beings by force, fraud, deceit, or other coercive tactic, for the purpose of placing them into conditions of forced labor or practices similar to slavery, in which labor is extracted through physical and/or non-physical means of coercion. Such coercion may include blackmail, fraud, deceit, isolation, threat or use of physical force, or psychological pressure.
We support the evolving international consensus that trafficking must be understood to apply to all labor sectors, including, but not limited to, the sex industry, while being limited to those instances in which some form of coercion is present. This consensus reflects the recognition that persons "trafficked" for various types of employment endure similar violations, as well as the conviction that distinguishing between voluntary and coercive acts is crucial to maintaining respect for the ability of women to purposefully and voluntarily migrate for work. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Radhika Coomaraswamy, adopted a definition of trafficking that incorporates both of these elements in a report released in February 2000. The report dealt with human rights violations suffered by women during both voluntary migration and trafficking, with trafficking in persons defined as "the recruitment, transportation, purchase, sale, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons: by threat or use of violence, abduction, force, fraud, deception or coercion (including abuse of authority), or debt bondage, for the purpose of: placing or holding such person, whether for pay or not, in forced labor or slavery-like practices, in a community other than the one in which such person lived at the time of the original act described in."
Other relevant standards for combating trafficking in women
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has pointed out that trafficking in persons is not a single event, but a series of actions involving a variety of actors and abuses. Combating trafficking in women requires policies and practices designed to prevent and provide redress for all of the human rights violations involved, thus deterring further abuses and encouraging victims to turn to law enforcement officials when violations occur.
So Nuch continued to work and after three months had paid off about US$ 8000. Two of the Thai women at the snack bar had been there nearly two years and had not yet finished paying back their debts. Another Thai woman had been there one and a half years and was also still paying back her debt. Nuch was never taken to see a doctor, and while the snack bar provided condoms and told the clients to use them, they seldom did. "In all my time in Japan only about ten clients ever used condoms and even then they broke a couple of times. I did not know about AIDS then or what 'blood positive' meant."
After about three months, a group of five Japanese men came into the snack bar. They appeared much neater than the usual clients. These men asked Nuch where she was from in Japanese, and she told them she was from Malaysia. Then they asked her something in Malaysian, but she could not answer. The five men came to the snack bar on three different occasions, and then one morning, the police came to arrest the women.
"They asked me and the others in Thai if we wanted to go home, and if so to get our clothes. Only myself and one other woman got our clothes. Everyone was arrested, the mama, her husband, the two Taiwanese friends, and the seven Thai women. One Thai woman had just finished off her debt after two years and was about to be paid for the first time for twenty clients. She was especially upset."
Nuch was taken to a police station and questioned. The police told her they would help her to get home, but instead she was detained for the next several months in solitary confinement, though she never understood why. While she was in jail, a doctor tested her blood three times, but did not tell her anything.
Eventually, Nuch was transferred to an immigration detention center, where she was held until the Thai Embassy issued her travel documents. In March 1993, Nuch went to the airport with the Japanese immigration officers and ten other Thai nationals. Upon arrival at Don Muang airport in Bangkok, the ten Thais were taken to the immigration office in the airport. Nuch was taken to a shelter where she has been living ever since. She understands now that she has HIV/AIDS.
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Women organisation traveled to Malaysia and Thailand several times over the six year period from 1994 to 1999. In Malaysia, we conducted interviews in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, and in George Town, Melaka, Ipoh, Johor Bahru, Langkawi, and Kuala Lumpur prefectures; in Thailand, we traveled to Bangkok and to the provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Phayao. We interviewed women who had recently escaped from debt bondage, as well as women who had paid off their debts and either returned to Thailand or continued working in Malaysia; we could not interview women while they were in debt bondage, due to the heavily controlled conditions of their employment. Our interviewees included twenty-three women from Thailand who described the circumstances under which they came to Malaysia. Most of these interviews were conducted together with Friends of Women in Asia (FOWIA), a Thai NGO based in Bangkok.
We also received detailed testimonies from thirty-five other women, twenty-eight of whom were interviewed by local researchers and seven by staff members at a women's shelter in Malaysia. In addition, we have drawn on the results of interviews with 170 Thai women that were conducted by staff at the House for Women "Saalaa" between September 1992 and May 1995, as well as the work of Dr. Suriya Samutkupt, a professor of anthropology at Suranaree University of Technology in Thailand. Dr. Samutkupt met with almost one hundred Thai women working in the sex industry in Ipoh prefecture while conducting research in Malaysia in 1995, 1996, and 1997. He explained to Women organisation that he was not able to speak to any of the women who were then working in debt bondage, but the women he talked to had arrived in Malaysia in "debt" and "described the hell that they went through."
In the great majority of the cases we documented, abuses qualifying as trafficking occurred during women's recruitment, travel, and job placement. All but one of the women Women organisation interviewed or obtained a detailed interview transcript for explained that agents in Thailand arranged their travel and job placement in coordination with contacts in Malaysia. The great majority of these women described elements of deception and coercion that amounted to trafficking for debt bondage or forced labor. In many more cases, there were strong indications of coercion – for example, the women had extraordinarily high "debts" to pay off when they began working – but the women did not provide enough information about the terms and conditions of their employment to reach definitive conclusions about whether the situation constituted debt bondage.
Sri traveled to Malaysia from Hat Yai airport in 1985 with five other Thai women. "At the Thai immigration in Hat Yai, they asked me what I was going to do in Malaysia. The officer was laughing and I believe he knew exactly what we were going to do. Then the escort arranged all of our passports with the immigration officer and we passed through without any other questions asked."
Pot flew to Malaysia via South Korea in 1992. She was put on a flight to South Korea with four other Thai women and one Thai man nicknamed Dee. "Dee told me and the other four women the specific Thai immigration officer to go to... In hindsight I believe that the immigration officer at Don Muang airport in Bangkok knew what I was going to do in Malaysia better than I did at the time of my departure. Because the officer was buddy-buddy with Dee and just kept smiling at us, the Thai women, as he stamped our passports."
Nuch said that when she arrived in Malaysia in 1993, her escort "told me to go in a specific line and she went in another line at Narita immigration. She went through first and then came to help me. She spoke Malaysian and got me through."
We found that those traveling on false passports often traveled through Hat Yai, a Thai city in Songkhla province near the Malaysian border.
Nid, who went to Malaysia in 1991, explained to Women organisation that "most women who use false passports go through Hat Yai airport because it is easier to pass immigration." Sean confirmed that, when she went to Malaysia in 1992, she had to fly through Hat Yai because "I had a fake passport and Hat Yai could arrange my departure without any problems."
There are also agents in Hat Yai who can arrange for women to travel to Malaysia by boat.
Naiyana Supapong, who served as the Director of Friends of Women in Asia (FOWIA) from 1992 to 1998, helping women who had decided work overseas in Malaysia, Hong Kong, and other countries, explained:
Women only get positive information from agents and returning women, but they don't know about the negative things. So I gave them both – the positive and the negative information. I said to them, "some women are successful, but do you know about the suffering behind their success?" Most of the women said: we've heard about the bad situations, but some women have good luck, and we hope we'll be one of them. So most went anyway – they had already made the decision to go when I met them – but this way they were better prepared.
And, according to another Thai NGO worker. In the case of Malaysia, lots of women know what they'll do and know they'll have hardships, but they still want to go because they are so poor. The Social Welfare Department tries to prevent them from going with information campaigns in the villages saying how hard it will be in Malaysia, that they'll be beaten, etc. A police officer who is also a song writer Police Colonel Surasak Sutharom even wrote a song about exporting women, saying that it is not a heaven but a hell. There were also ex-sex workers on talk shows on television saying don't go to Malaysia. But still women want to go.
Most of the women explained that they were first approached by a relative, neighbor, or other acquaintance, who told them about opportunities to work in Malaysia:
Rei's recruiter was a Thai man who lived in her neighborhood. He was known as the "boss lek" and was known to have arranged jobs for many women in Malaysia.
Khai was recruited in 1991, at age sixteen, by a client while she was working as a masseuse and sex worker in a massage parlor in southern Thailand. As she explained to Women organisation, "a client invited me to work in Kuala Lumpur. I explained that I had no identification, but he said he could get me a passport because he was a member of parliament. So I agreed, and the client took me to a place to have my body checked. There I saw many other Thai girls trying to go to Malaysia. I was told I would work as a server."
Faa had left her village in Thailand to work in a sewing shop in Bangkok. When she was nineteen years old, her relatives in Bangkok convinced her to go to work in Malaysia.
Nam had been working at a restaurant in Chiang Rai Province when she was invited to go to Malaysia by a friend in 1991. As she recalled, "I could not find a job in Thailand and I saw that many women in the village had gone to Malaysia, so I decided to go." She was twenty-eight years old at the time.
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