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Sunday, May 6, 2007

OF PROSTITUTES AND PROSTITUTION

As practicing Muslims, who honour all our obligation, and performed all the ibadat rituals day after day without fail, what is our first impression of a prostitute?

I posed this question to almost everybody that I know, colleague in my office, friends in teh tarik sessions, futsal team mates, religious teachers, Internet Islamic preachers and anyone I could think of.

Almost everybody told me without even blinking their eyes, prostitutes are sinful person; not afraid to incur God’s wrath; tak de kerja lain ke?, for sure a hell’s candidate; they sold their body for money; all sort of negative remarks as if they are talking about the devil himself.

I posed the next questions. "Have you ever met one? Been talking to them lately?" Their answers; Uh, no, I stayed away from them; Wouldn’t even dream of talking to them; what are you talking about, they are prostitutes for God’s sake; and the best answer of them all; “Where to find one, ah?” With eyes looking at me top to bottom as if I am Mr. Pimp himself. (I assure you that I am not).

The thing is, with prostitutes, who in their right mind wants to be one? Or were they, when asked about their ambitions by their primary school teacher, answered dreamily, when I grow up, I want to be a prostitute, Sir.

Some years back, when I was working abroad, I had an opportunity of meeting them through a good friend of mine, a Catholic priest, who runs a programme to educate former prostitute. Meeting them was an eye opener. I found them to be intelligent, brave and full of determination.

I am not trying to champion them or condone their activities. What I am trying to do, is to understand the reason why they did it. Some of them told me, they came from poverty stricken family, since their parents cannot afford to send them to school, this is what they end up doing, to earn income and financially support their parents, brothers and sisters. One of them asked me, “Do you think that I want to do this, sleeping with man everyday? I am helping my family back home, and if God wants to punish me for that, so be it. At least my family is well fed”. Another told me she was cheated into it by her uncle, and she was sold to a man who owns a brothel. She escaped and went to the police, and her family disowned her for being a prostitute rather than helping her to come back to her previous life. Feeling dejected and lost, she turns to the only thing she knew. “But this time,” she said, “its my own willing choice”.

I asked myself, why in Malaysia, nothing has been done to address this social issue? Of course, the newspaper always reported successful operations and raid by the authorities, but one glaring fact is the sometimes missing information on how many of them are locals, and always the numbers being detained are foreigners. It seems that there are no local prostitutes in Malaysia. I don’t buy that. Go to any establishment which offered massage services and you can easily engaged/ find one.

I agree, what they did is sinful. No doubt about that. But we should not judge them negatively just because that is what our community’s general view of prostitution. I asked a religious teacher, “What is Islam answer to prostitution and how to eradicate it?” I was not surprised when he went overboard with his reply, saying again and again that prostitution is sinful, haram plus the usual prostitute demonizing speech. I rephrased my question. “What if your relatives, or God forbid, your children is actively involved in vice, what would you do?” He sarcastically remarks. “Son, I am from a good family, there is no way that will happen” Seeing him still missing the point, I gave up my conversation with him.

I cannot help but wonder about our Muslim preachers. Who are their target groups? I am confident that a brothel’s Mamasan and her personnel will never make it to their list. A group of them came to my area a few months ago. They were soft spoken and polite. I asked them, “Where else have you been?” They replied “We went to this masjid, stayed in this kampong, a round trip to this place, you know.” I continued, “Did you do da’wah to drug addicts, prostitutes, Mat Rempits and the likes?” My question is met with a blank stare at first, but someone on the group offered an answer. “Encik”, with a smirk and a smart ass look on his face, “You cannot find them in the mosques and suraus.” I replied “EXACTLY.” and walk away.

I am a believer in second chances. I do wish our Muslim community, instead of forever chastising prostitutes and slap a negative label on them, we should at least engage and encourage them to leave their world. The sad thing is, no one wants to admit it as an existing social problem here in Malaysia other than treating it as a punishable crime under our laws. We don’t want to go deeper than that.

It a sad fact, but I do wish however that one day, a group of prostitute will be given the chance to jump over the North Pole like those former Mat Rempits.

18 comments:

Dina Zaman said...

is that you? mr a letter from america?

been emailing to your shaw account but no reply for a good two years!

Dina Zaman said...

oops. ps. we're helping rehabilitated sex workers in chow kit start a new life. if you are in kl, give me a shout. that day we salam with them, and they were so happy, they didn't think people like us would salam with them. do you know how heartbreaking that is?

lilyliverbird said...

hi. found you by bloghopping. nice blog.

Re: Dina's book. We're on the same page lol

akula said...

Hey Dina. Yep its me, So nice to hear from you. Been back here since last September. Sorry la, too much going on in my head. Swtiched my account a few times. Received too many spams.

Thats a piece of good news so far I heard on the prostitution thing. At least somebody is doing something. Would love to do the rounds with you.

Congratulations for your new book.

Now, about the payment thing, can we negotiate on that? Hehe:)

akula said...

lilyliverbird: Thanks for visiting. The Dina thing, we really should form a club!;)

BTW, how many blogs you have?

Mr Hobo said...

dude ... masa hang 'interview' depa .... diorang kasik fire and ice dak?

akula said...

Hobo dude. I plead ignorance on the fire and ice. Would you please kindly elaborate. ;)

A Babe Of Very Little Brain said...

fire & ice, macam gula-gula hacks punya effect ke?

Mr Incognito said...

haha, this feels like old times (talking about the commentors, not the prostitutes)

M.I.S.S.Y said...

yes abang hobo...
saya pun musykil..abang hobo sangat berpengetahuan luas orangnya...

dah pencen said...

I think it would not be too difficult for prostitutes to jump over the North Pole. They are already experts on jumping on poles.

Mr Hobo said...

Missy ... kalau nak tau what is fire and ice, I can show you. But nak explain kat sini payah sikit, not articulate enough.

akula said...

a babe of vey little brain :hacks tu kan pedas?

Mr. Incognito : I only wrote it, or am i included?

dah pencen : Kah Kah kah, kelakor , Why didnt I think of that before?

Hobo : Dude, you're the man

akula said...

missy : Hobo dude kan ke jauh perjalanan dia, tentulah luas pengalaman.

Leen Ash Burn said...

Actually Yasmin Ahmad thought abt that as well - she blogged abt it before: about what do you think if an ustaz/bilal is friends with the local prostitute. She included that in her Gubra movie wot. And found out from Bukak Api that there's a charity who deals with sex workers/trannies by providing support and education abt safe sex etc, so all is not lost.

akula said...

Leen: Bagus la tu. We should do away with our `generalisation thinking'.

Lil' Miss Easydent said...

I think there ARE groups that provide support for prostitutes and sex workers, but yes, u got me thinking about those ustaz or preachers, the muslims specifically. While imho they should start reaching out to the sex workers/ mat rempit/ degenerates, I think we do lack support from this group of people. Perhaps they figure they could get 'tainted' by reaching out to these people.

akula said...

easydent :Thats what I meant exactly. Our preachers preached only to those `safe bet' people. Thanks for your comment.