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Of course it sells!

Shalveen Chand
Thursday, May 26, 2016

SEX sells, not only glossy magazine covers, raunchy television commercials and on silver screen but literally it sells.

On the streets of Suva, Nadi and the busier towns, the sex industry has been known to thrive and Fiji offers a variety of choices. Even the locals offer quite a selection from indigenous girls to girls of Indian descent and some of mixed ethnicity.

And if the choice is a bit different there are many transgender male sex workers as well who ply their trade alongside the women in Fiji.

This fact has not been denied.

Fiji Women's Crisis Centre co-ordinator Shamima Ali said some girls came from poor socioeconomic backgrounds and the sex industry was often seen as their only way out of poverty.

The Fiji Police are aware of local operations but seem either ignorant or quiet on the issue of Asian, mainly Chinese, prostitution which happens in much more organised manner.

"We are aware of such offences to be occurring in some places in Suva however, we are monitoring the issue through our intelligence gathering," responded the Fiji Police spokeswomen Naina Ragigia to a set of questions sent to them regarding Asian women involved in prostitution.

Over the years, the media has highlighted many of these cases and many such women have been sent back to their homeland not for the crime of prostitution but instead for violating immigration laws.

How do they operate?

In Suva, there are Asian women who can be easily spotted along Victoria Parade at night. There are some, however, who operate through massage parlours both in the capital and the tourist town of Nadi.

There are also Asian women who operate out of their place of residence where the clients are taken. There have been many police arrests and raids on these types of houses.

The massage parlours are legitimate businesses and the operator or the receptionist at the desk will inform you that extra favours would have to be negotiated with the girls. The customer or client pays for the full body massage and once inside will be given a massage with a hint that something extra could be gained.

The most common terms used would be: "Would you like a happy ending" and the not so good English speakers blatantly ask: "You, jiggy jiggy?" The money exchange occurs between the client and the girl inside the massage parlour, and the legitimate massage operator has total deniability.

This makes proving prostitution cases very hard because the exchange of money has to be proven that it was for the sex.

There are many issues associated with Asian prostitution. At the top of anyone's list would have to be human trafficking.

Ms Ali said they had encountered cases where the Asian women were tricked into coming to Fiji. She said once in Fiji, their travel documents would be seized and they would be forced into the business.

She added in some cases, the Asian women do not stick around for long as they are moved from Fiji to other countries so they do not violate immigration laws. This makes it hard to track them.

When the Fiji Police was asked if they thought locals also indulged in business with Asian women, their response was that the Asian "market" is for the Asian fishermen who come off vessels berthed in Suva.

"The trend is that the people that engage in such activities are mainly these Chinese fishermen that are on land for a few days or so. They usually resort to sexual activities with other Chinese women as a means of pleasure. There is no report received at our police stations as these fishermen never stay longer than a week, for most of the time," responded Ms Ragigia.

"We cannot deny the fact the human trafficking is a foreign crime onto our shores and the probability of such crimes to be committed in our territory is very high. However, the Fiji Police Force, together with Pacific Island neighbours and their law enforcement agencies, are working alongside each other to address the issue.

"We do agree that the issue needs serious consideration and our officers are being regularly trained through the services of Australian Federal Police (AFP), defence enforcement agencies and other foreign assistance offered to us through training.

"There has not been any report received of the above, however, we have the manpower to attend to reports first-hand."

Ms Ali said locals were also frequenting the Asian prostitutes adding that local girls, in a way, were being marginalised because they were involved because of their socioeconomic backgrounds.

Some locals who have frequented such services provided by the massage parlours spoke on grounds of anonymity said the Asian affair was safer.

They said it was safer in terms of the sexually transmitted infections because the massage parlours were sanitary and the girls more appealing because of their attire.

They claimed local girls were often responsible for thefts and often opted to take them to dodgy motels where safety was always a concern.

The massage parlours operate in a similar fashion both in Nadi and Suva and contrary to what some would like to believe, there is a large demand for them and the frequency of the locals to parlours is quite high.

It is nothing but simple economics; if there is a demand, there will be a supplier.

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