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The signs are that the sex industry in clean, green Singapore — where prostitution is legal — is as vibrant as ever. Soliciting prostitution in public places is also illegal in the Lion City. Freelancers like Jaafar solicit on the streets, advertise their services online, and work under the cover of escort agencies.

She weighs 45kg, is 1. Ho says the sums prostitutes charge for sex services in Singapore vary widely, depending on where the woman plies her trade. But even as an independent worker, a good amount of my earnings is spent on advertising. Although Singapore does not stick too closely to the letter of the law, there are crackdowns. Last year, Quek Choon Leong, 34, was jailed for 33 months for running a vice ring of 32 prostitutes, supported by his wife and 10 other staff. In another indication of how the government is trying to keep a lid on illegal activity, the Ministry of Home Affairs said last month it had recorded a 40 per cent rise in the number of unlicensed massage parlours in Singapore between and These establishments, the ministry said, are often a front for vice activities.

The bill just has had its first reading. In an attempt to regulate the sex trade, Singapore allows licensed brothels to operate in designated areas. The licensing process, controlled by the police, is murky and the number of establishments is not made public.

Women working these brothels are also required to hold a licence, issued by police. They are given a yellow card bearing their name and photo, and results of the regular check-ups they are required to have, for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The licensing of brothels is controversial because they operate in so-called designated red-light areas, where the law against pimping is not enforced, critics say. Another place in Asia where prostitution is legal is Hong Kong, which also forbids soliciting, causing or helping another person to be a prostitute, and living off the earnings of a prostitute.

However, there are no licensed brothels in Hong Kong, nor designated red-light areas. Wan Chai, on Hong Kong Island, has long been the unofficial red-light district, with bars and discos popular among Western clients, while Mong Kok in Kowloon is known more among locals for its illegal brothels and streetwalkers. In , Hong Kong accounting sector lawmaker Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong suggested the government establish a legal red-light district to consolidate and confine the sex industry.

Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu rejected the suggestion, saying prostitution in the city was already under control. He said setting up an official red light district would mean require big changes in government policy on the issue. Unlike Singapore, Hong Kong does not outlaw classified ads for prostitution or websites that allow clients to make appointments.

Despite the existence of licensed brothels in Singapore, many women still end up working illegally, including in an unknown number of unlicensed brothels. Some have even been found operating in public housing estates, The Straits Times reported last month.

There is clearly a demand for prostitutes in Singapore, Ho says, and women keep coming to the city from nearby countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and China. Project X says there are many informal sex workers who work only occasionally, making it difficult to estimate the number. Two years ago, police arrested more than 5, unlicensed sex workers — mostly foreign women visiting on tourist visas.

Lainez says many are poorly educated with low-paying jobs back home. They came to Singapore for sex work to earn a higher income. Singaporean Jaafar falls into the same category. She failed to complete the Primary School Leaving Examination and has limited job options. Many johns view their payment as giving them unfettered permission to degrade and assault women. Her father went to prison when she was 2 years old, and she was 4 the first time her body was exchanged for drugs by her mother, an addict.

Growing up in foster-care families, she was abused in every one. When she was 10, a year-old pimp promised he would take care of her. For the next five years, until he went to jail, her pimp trafficked her all over the Western United States. Trafficked children often have histories similar to that of T.

The majority have drug dependencies or mental illnesses, and one third have been threatened with death by pimps, who often use violence to keep them in line. Researchers and service providers consistently find high levels of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, suicidal ideation, and other psychological problems among prostitutes.

And yet johns prefer to view prostitutes as loving sex and enjoying their customers. What happens is called somatic dissociation; this also happens to incest survivors and people who are tortured. Tracy Quan, who became a prostitute as a year-old runaway, says that many women do it for lack of better economic opportunities.

And yet even Quan admits she had one customer who tied her up and scared her so badly she thought he was going to kill her. Noting that such men often escalate their violence over time, she starts to cry; there is a long silence as she struggles to regain control.

In response to such dangers, a growing antitrafficking movement is now targeting sexual exploitation both here and abroad.

No one really knows how many women and children are trafficked for sex in the United States, often through the use of force, fraud, or coercion; the scope of the problem is hotly debated, but many believe it is growing. An array of organizations are now working to combat trafficking by building coalitions to reshape policies and change attitudes in the criminal-justice and social-welfare systems. But the traditional double standard that punished women and forgave men is also being reevaluated.

During her years in prostitution, T. Many law-enforcement officials say such longstanding practices are changing and credit the efforts of the antitrafficking movement. Now our mindset has changed from assuming the girls are criminals to trying to rescue the victims, provide them the services they need, and get information to lock up their traffickers. Most of our arrests used to be female prostitutes, but now we arrest more johns than we do prostitutes.

Striking developments abroad are also influencing policies in the United States. In Sweden decided that prostitution was a form of violence against women and made it a crime to buy sex, although not to sell it. This approach dramatically reduced trafficking, whereas the legalization of prostitution in the Netherlands, Germany, and much of Australia led to an explosive growth in demand that generated an increase in trafficking and other crimes. Despite the struggle to control it, human trafficking is often described as the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world, and as second only to drug trafficking in its profitability.

With billions of dollars at stake, the campaign against sexual exploitation has also provoked a predictable backlash.

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They hired me also as a photographer to shoot the sexy photos of the girls for the websites. I started meeting girls and shooting events. She expected to be shooting a pack of attention-starved girls, buying in to the stereotype of debauched abandon, over-priced drinks, and throbbing music, but she was quickly proved wrong.

There were divas, but there were also students paying for college and entrepreneurs funding start-ups. In the beginning Alicia laid low. She cozied up with a dancer she knew from work and let everyone get to know her on their own terms. She talked about her project and slowly began asking to take pictures. For the next two years, weekend after weekend, she was on-hand for pre-dance jitters and dead-night boredom backstage. She saw the strippers as a sisterhood, arguing and feuding one night, laughing and crying the next.

The scene was laid so bare, she never knew what she was overlooking. She started explaining more of the relationships between pimps and the girls and the bouncers and the customers and all of these things that I was completely oblivious to. I feel like I learned something new every time. I never had it all figured out. Eden stood out from everyone else in looks and demeanor. The night they met they spent chatting between acts, and the following morning Alicia called on the hostel where Eden had been living since arriving in San Francisco a week earlier.

When Alicia moved to Mexico City, Eden moved into her old room. Alicia had to move because San Francisco was too expensive to work freelance without also having a day job. It was familiar and it was cheap, a good place for rocky new beginnings. She still lives there today, much more settled. After moving, Alicia and Eden kept in touch, writing each other several times a month. While Alicia developed connections and picked up assignments in her new city, Eden remained entrenched in the club world.

Her friends were strippers, her focus was stripping, and although Alicia would try to encourage her to explore her creativity by going to school or making friends outside of the club, Eden continued on her path.

Conversation slowed over time but Alicia would still hear from her friend once a month. Everything seemed well, Eden could take care of herself and was well-liked at work. But after a year had passed Eden confided that she had begun flying to the east coast with a friend from the club and working as an escort. She was different in so many ways, so when she told me it was such a shock to me.

Then Eden was arrested. It was her third time and she was threatened with jail. She decided she needed to go home. While they talked about what was happening Alicia asked if she could fly out east and document the tough days to come.

It could make for a compelling photo story, Alicia thought, and she would be there for Eden whatever happened. They met up in Philadelphia and took the train to rural Virginia where Eden had grown up. Her mom had known that she was stripping, and whatever she thought, she accepted it. The revelation that Eden was working as an escort was explosive.

Should I take pictures? Should I not take pictures? It was very intense. No one could stop Eden from prostitution, they could only support her as best as they could. During the few days of familial detente that followed, Eden introduced Alicia to old high school friends and showed her around. Eden read journal entries aloud, written by a year-old who dreamed of moving to California and being a stripper.

Moral judgement gave way to legal judgement. Eden rehearsed a written statement as her mom grilled Alicia about her project, her intentions, where the photos might be published. They booked a hotel room in a casino, a bustling hour place where no one takes notice of coming and goings. King of Prussia is also renowned as a hot spot for prostitution. While they were there, Eden started working. If a client was coming, she would cut out to kill time milling about the slots.

In response to such dangers, a growing antitrafficking movement is now targeting sexual exploitation both here and abroad. No one really knows how many women and children are trafficked for sex in the United States, often through the use of force, fraud, or coercion; the scope of the problem is hotly debated, but many believe it is growing.

An array of organizations are now working to combat trafficking by building coalitions to reshape policies and change attitudes in the criminal-justice and social-welfare systems. But the traditional double standard that punished women and forgave men is also being reevaluated. During her years in prostitution, T. Many law-enforcement officials say such longstanding practices are changing and credit the efforts of the antitrafficking movement.

Now our mindset has changed from assuming the girls are criminals to trying to rescue the victims, provide them the services they need, and get information to lock up their traffickers. Most of our arrests used to be female prostitutes, but now we arrest more johns than we do prostitutes. Striking developments abroad are also influencing policies in the United States.

In Sweden decided that prostitution was a form of violence against women and made it a crime to buy sex, although not to sell it. This approach dramatically reduced trafficking, whereas the legalization of prostitution in the Netherlands, Germany, and much of Australia led to an explosive growth in demand that generated an increase in trafficking and other crimes.

Despite the struggle to control it, human trafficking is often described as the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world, and as second only to drug trafficking in its profitability.

With billions of dollars at stake, the campaign against sexual exploitation has also provoked a predictable backlash. The Craigslist crackdown increased revenue at Backpage. Clearly worried about growing social pressure, the Voice attacked the antitrafficking campaign last month, charging that it has exaggerated the extent of the problem. The most common estimates, oft-repeated by major media, suggest that , to , children are trafficked in the United States every year.

The Voice reported that this statistic identifies children at risk and claimed that the number of those who are actually trafficked is only a fraction of those figures. The ads reflect a growing recognition that men are the key to addressing this problem. Sex buyers are overwhelmingly male, and they purchase males as well as females.

Whatever its form, the underlying question posed by prostitution remains the same: Fighting that behemoth will require the participation of both sexes.

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