Yesterday I read a story that bothered me greatly, and one that has a lot of loose ends. As it happens, 30 foreign women (29 Chinese and 1 Vietnamese) and 8 Malaysian men were arrested in a prostitution ring at an upscale nightclub in Northern Malaysia, according to Asian Correspondent . Worse, the women were chained together and were branded on their chest or forehead with a cattle prod. Despite a great outcry at this inhumane treatment, police (who conducted their sting operation for a week) said they needed to do so to keep the suspected women from blending in with the other female “patrons” of the nightclub, and noted as well that they had received plenty of complaints from the wives of the male customers of the nightclub.
There are a lot of parts of this story that don’t add up. Let us comment on what we can gather based on the evidence at hand. For one, the women arrested were all foreign women (mostly from China). Who knows under what false pretenses these women were bought and/or kidnapped and brought through some slave trade into Malaysia for prostitution to enrich their pimps (hopefully the pimps were among the 8 men arrested, a rather skewed gender ratio). Additionally, the details that this was an upscale nightclub in a heavily Muslim part of Malaysia (northern Malaysia, like southern Thailand, is a Muslim-dominated region). Presumably the owners of the nightclub are involved in the sordid trade of human flesh, at least as a market for sex slaves, if not in a more direct fashion. Additionally, the clientele of this nightclub would appear to be wealthy married Muslim men, whose desires for adultery conflict with their desire to avoid bringing shame and dishonor upon the families of their friends and neighbors (hence the foreign women). Likewise, the women complained about the whore being homebreakers instead of condemning the immoral and illicit desires of their husbands, who bring who knows what sexually transmitted diseases home with them because of their inability to control their sexual desires.
The odds are high that the police were not interested in conducting a sting of the Malaysian men who provide the demand for high-end prostitutes. These men may be politicians, wealthy businessmen, and other important people who are not likely to view such an interruption of their playtime in a friendly manner. Likewise, it would seem likely that the sting operation does not wish to disrupt the activities of the owners of the nightclub, who are probably notable and important people as well, whatever their sins. Instead, the people targeted are probably lower level pimps as well as foreign women without the protection of the law. Marking the prostitutes with a brand also means that such women may in the future be easily recognized for sting operations or blackmail or their own private use of prostitutes.
Let us ponder this type of sting in a larger context, though. For one, such a sting represents an attempt to “support family values” without dealing with the deeper issues in Malyasian society (issues that are fairly widespread). It is easy to conduct operations against whores (especially foreign whores–who can be said to have few friends) to give one’s self the image or reputation of moral propriety, without examining the “demand” side of the equation. For one, we have to note that for Chinese and Malaysian women to be present in this upscale nightclub in Northern Malaysia (and others like it) required a network of slave traders and kidnappers extending from Malaysia into Vietnam and China that was able to take/buy and transport such women from their homes and families (probably at a young age) into a new country, involving a great deal of corruption of border services and the police in both the source and the destination countries.
Additionally, let us note why there are foreign women in these establishments in the first place. Northern Malaysia, like most Muslim areas, is governed by a hypocritical double standard that requires the strict enforcement of virtue on women but tolerates and accepts the unlimited sexual appetite of men, so long as they can afford to fill it. While daughters must be strictly chaste (even rape victims in such societies are killed in “honor killings,” instead of the unworthy and vile rapists), and wives must be strictly faithful (also upon pain of death), there is no equivalent standard enforced upon men, who are able to gratify any sexual lusts so long as they can afford to pay for a hooker or support a wife or mistress. The women are the only ones blamed for the moral corruption, and the men escape without censure or judgment on the earthly level at all. Clearly this is terribly unjust.
And yet this is the way that so-called virtue has been defended throughout the ages of humankind. Lest we forget, at least half of the novels of Jane Austen (Sense & Sensibility with the story of the two Elizas, Pride & Prejudice with the story of Lydia, Mansfield Park with the punishment of Mrs. Maria (Bertram) Rushworth, and Lady Susan’s eponymous feminine schemer) show the sexual double standard where women engaged in immoral sexual activity had their reputations ruined forever, while the men were free to dally, ruin women, and then seek the marriage of pure and wealthy women later on.
The solution to this obviously unfair double standard in Western societies over the last century has been to release the standards of purity on both men and women. Instead of giving every whore an opportunity to become an honest woman, we have made in the West almost every girl and young woman, as well as almost every young man, into a whore. (At least in the biblical definition–which required strict fidelity for both men and women upon heavy payments for premarital sex (for the young man) and death penalties for both men and women for adultery, as well as the death penalty for all rapists and kidnappers). A far better way of dealing with the problem, if more difficult, would be to fairly enforce the same standards of sexual purity for both men and women.
After all, it is important and proper that a decent man wants to marry a decent woman (I know I do). Likewise, a decent woman wants to marry a decent man. A man who has his own lusts under proper self-control is able to provide an example of godliness to his sons, and be a fit (and non-hypocritical) defender of the virtue of his wife, sisters, daughters, and cousins, as well as the womenfolk of his friends and associates. Likewise, such an honorable man will not be looking for prostitutes, foreign or local, and will therefore not cause his wife to complain about prostitutes or encourage the slave trade of girls and young women. The evils of prostitution do not exist simply because there are evil women, but because there are evil men without self-control who are willing to serve as johns and others happy to profit as pimps and procurers. Let us therefore look not only to condemn the exploited women, but take a deeper look at why such places as upscale brothels exist in the first place, because of our own lusts and evil desires.