ABU - ASALKAN BUKAN UMNO

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lawyer's call for legalized prostitution stirs up a storm

Sulaiman Kamal | 11:35 PM | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Angry women are up in arms over a call by a male lawyer to legalizeprostitution. The lawyer had asked the authorities to do so when he was mitigating for a woman sex worker at the Magistrate's court in Sarawak recently.
It stirred up a hornet's with wives and girlfriends taking umbrage at the suggestion to the extent that they flooded the PKR Women's wing with phone calls to protest.
An incensed Voon Shiak Ni, the PKR Women's vice chairman, also hit out at the lawyer. She accused him of making a mockery of women, refusing to accept his argument that legalizing prostitutes was also one way to deter rape. Why was the study to prove such a sweeping statement, she demanded.

“Rape is caused by sadistic men who want control, power and violence over women. It has nothing to do with making prostitutes legal. These are two different issues altogether,” Voon told a press conference.
“This is one of the most negative statements to be used as a mitigation factor. Women should not be encouraged to go into the flesh trade and be used by men as it causes social ills, family break up and bring diseases into the home."
Oldest profession, so what?
It’s a trade, Voon reasoned, that would mushroom to meet demand with women and young girls vulnerable to being treated as sex objects, without respect for them as people or human beings. Pimps would take control over their lives and they would be forced to entertain many clients with no consideration for their well-being, she fretted.
She did not deny that prostitution was one of the oldest professions in the world and already entrenched in society worldwide. But that did not make it right or offer enough grounds to make it legal, Voon insisted. She pointed out that some prostitutes were forced into the flesh trade while others were brought in by human traffickers.
“There were arguments that legalizing prostitution would ensure women would undergo medical checks frequently. Now who is going to ensure that all these women will really go for checkup? All that is more easily said than done,” said Voon.
She also warned deadly sexual diseases like HIV have increased and can be spread through the sex trade and taken 'home'. At a course she attended recently, organised by the United Nations Development Plan, Voon said she was appalled to learn that AIDS was now spread more from ordinary homes rather than from 'gay' couples or homosexual-related activities.
Since last week, the PKR leader has put up the issue on her Facebook page asking for opinions. Most people were of the idea that even if prostitution was legalized, there was no way that wives would allow their husbands to visit them. Legalization could not make prostitution respectable or acceptable either. For example, Voon said, a legal sex centre was not a 'sports club' where one would encourage the young to go. “We want the younger generation to work hard on their studies and improve their career, not seek out prostitutes."
She also cautioned that legalized outlets may charge higher and this in turn could make underground prostitution dens more popular. “It’s just like buying lottery tickets. Despite legal lottery outlets, there are a number of illegal ones,” she said.
Don't be a heroine at others' expense
So, is Voon right? Passionate she may be about women's rights, albeit from her point of view, but some of her ideas seem to run contrary to the stand taken by several first world governments including squeaky-clean and conservative Singapore, which quietly legalised prostitution years ago.
To many women activists, education and empowerment are the best ways forward for the female sex to be able to choose their own destinies. The gap against their male counterparts has already narrowed tremendously due to better education opportunites, although there is still a long way more to go.
Within the industry, there are also many educated women who choose to be sex workers because of the money. To this group, there is nothing wrong and they appreciated the protection that comes with legalisation, although many wished it could be better. These women see Voon as a zealot, who must learn to distinguish between vice and human trafficking and offering sex as a service in a professional manner.
"These are totally different things. Of course, sex slaves and enforced prostitution that is due to vice and human trafficking must be stopped. It is cruel and I for one would contribute some money towards such a cause. But this is a problem due to poverty, the economy, and most of all, to the unscrupulous syndicates. This is a problem for the police and the enforcement people. To not legalise prostitution just because of this will harm other prostitutes," a sex worker was kind enough to take the time to share with Malaysia Chronicle.
"In the end, it is for the individual to choose. What the governments should do is to get them to a level where they can choose. How many women can really choose their own fates now? To you, it is terrible, to me - what's the big deal? What is important is that everything is professional and safe and nobody is beaten up and taken advantage of. To me, it is important that I am protected, I get my pay and I deliver my services professionally. My client must also be professional. The law can help in this way. Women like Voon must think more deeply and not inflict her own philosophy on others. Who is she to do that? She should stop moralizing and trying to be a heroine at our expense."


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