chapter  5
Prostitution and tourism in South-East Asia
ByWendy Lee
Pages 26

In the 1960s Franz Fanon warned the poor nations not to become the ‘brothels of Europe’. His warning has taken on new relevance for South-East Asian countries where an important incentive for tourism is the availability of women, either openly as prostitutes in brothels or performers in sex shows, or less obviously as bar or hospitality girls, massage and bath attendants, hostesses in hotels, and waitresses in nightclubs and cocktail lounges. It is in Thailand, South Korea, and the Philippines where the most blatant and systematic organization of sex tourism is to be found. Here prostitution has developed on an unprecedented scale: it is women’s bodies which underpin the balance of payments. Studies of the issue sometimes give the impression that it is the product of specifically Asian practices and attitudes, something over which the governments of South-East Asian countries have relatively little control. This chapter will question that interpretation, by examining the material and ideological factors which maintain prostitution as in integral aspect of SouthEast Asian development.