Wednesday, September 24, 2014

RM 3 billions prostitution market only “activities” to Bukit Aman?

Media Statement by Yeo Bee Yin, State Assemblyperson for Damansara Utama on Monday, 22 September 2014 in Petaling Jaya.

How can RM 3 billions prostitution market not an “industry” but “activities” to Bukit Aman?

I am greatly disturbed by Bukit Aman’s response to the video “Trapped – The Underage Sex Industry in Malaysia” as reported by The Star Online today. The Secret Societies, Gambling and Vice Division principal assistant director SAC Datuk Roslee Chik was quoted in the news portal to say that sex is not an “industry” but only “activities” as it is “not that big”. [1]

Nevertheless, Havocscope, an international organization that specializes in collecting global black market information, estimates that the size of the black market value of prostitution in Malaysia amounts to USD 963 million [2].  Is RM 3 billions sex trade market not big enough for it to be considered an “industry” to Bukit Aman?

Sex workers group is also identified as one of the four largest groups for HIV infection by Malaysian AIDS Council & Malaysia AIDS Foundation and 74% of new HIV infections was caused by sexual transmission in 2013. [3] Therefore, the problem of illegal sex trade is definitely not “not that big” as described by Roslee.

Furthermore, the video also highlighted the problem of sex workers being underage. Instead of denying or belittling it, we need to know how many children, foreign or local, are kidnapped, cheated or trafficked into selling their bodies and what we can do to help them.

Another issue that was highlighted in the video is the problem of human trafficking. This should serve as a reminder to Putrajaya on our downgrade to Tier 3 in United State’s “Trafficking in Persons Report” as a result of not complying to the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and has shown no significant effort in doing so for consecutive two years. Following the downgrade, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has on 10 July 2014 announced the formation of high-level committee on human trafficking to tackle the problem [4], any plan from the high-level committee yet? It is more than 2 years late.

Video such as “Trapped – The Underage Sex Industry in Malaysia” reveals shocking facts about Malaysia that most Malaysians do not know exist. As a responsible government, instead of brushing aside, finding fault or denying it, it is better to find solutions to this complex problem, either through better legislation or enforcement.