Prostitution in Singapore

Prostitution is one of the oldest professions in the world and one of the most enduring.  It is probably the only profession that will remain the same throughout all of history as there will always be a supply and there will always be a demand.  You can find prostitution anywhere you go, but in ultra-conservative Singapore, it took me by surprise to find out that prostitution is not illegal here.

Here’s a quote from the “2008 Human Rights Report: Singapore” as per the U.S. Department of State:

Prostitution itself is not illegal; however, public solicitation, living on the earnings of a prostitute, and maintaining a brothel are illegal. The authorities periodically carried out crackdowns on solicitation for prostitution and arrested and deported foreign prostitutes, particularly when their activities took place outside informally designated red-light areas. In practice police unofficially tolerated and monitored a limited number of brothels; prostitutes in such establishments were required to undergo periodic health checks and carry a health card.

(Note: The quote says ‘foreign prostitutes’ because the majority of prostitutes in Singapore are not locals.  They are from the poorer surrounding countries and enter Singapore on a temporary visa, during which time they engage in prostitution to raise capital.  They then return home and, I assume, repeat the cycle as necessary.)

Coming from the US, legalized prostitution is nothing new to me.  It’s legal in Nevada and until earlier this year it was legal in Rhode Island.  However, I grew up in a conservative family and spent most of my childhood in the South, which is commonly referred to as the Bible Belt.  Until I was older and put more thought to the subject I viewed all prostitutes as inherently evil.  I now know that most prostitution is done out of necessity.  That doesn’t make it right in my eyes, just understandable.

I had always assumed that this sort of activity was illegal in Singapore.  The laws are very strict here, including fines for eating or drinking on public transit and the outlawing of chewing gum.  So, I can’t help but wonder why prostitution is legal.  I see it as dangerous and morally reprehensible, but that could just be a cultural difference.  When it comes right down to it, consensual prostitution doesn’t really hurt anybody, and given the prostitute’s circumstances it may be beneficial to her (or him) financially.  The banning of prostitution in Singapore could be more detrimental than helpful to social order.  Or another way to look at it would be that since it’s not a problem, there’s no reason to fix it.

Legality aside, there are three places in Singapore that are known for prostitution.  I’ve mentioned most of them in passing in previous posts, but I’ll detail them here again.

The first place is the Geylang area.  Singapore is divided up into town areas for political and governance reasons.  Geylang is located in eastern Singapore along the East-West MRT Green Line.  The MRT won’t drop you directly in Geylang.  You have to get off at the Aljunied station and then catch a bus the rest of the way.  It’s not a long ride.  Geylang itself is a sort of seedy looking place.  It’s an older part of town that’s a bit run down.  A lot of the buildings look like they’ve been standing since before Singapore was Singapore.  The best spots for finding prostitutes in Geylang is to look in the mostly dark alleys around Lorongs 10 thru 12.

The second place that’s fairly famous for prostitutes is Lucky Plaza.  Lucky Plaza is a mall along Orchard Road that caters mostly to the needs of Filipino foreign workers and Permanent Residents.  The mall contains shops that sell imported Filipino goods, remittance centers, Internet cafes, and Filipino restaurants.  It also has a lot of Filipina prostitutes.  If you click through on the link at the beginning of this paragraph there’s a photo of two of them in that post.

The last place is Orchard Towers, which is also known as the Four Floors of Whores.  It’s located at the end of Orchard Road, next door to the Thai Embassy.  My wife and I had heard rumors about the place but we’d never actually been there.  So, when we were out enjoying this year’s Christmas decorations we figured, why not?  We were close to it anyway.  As I walked up to the building and peeked down the stairs I saw two girls hanging around in the hallway area.  It was obvious what they were up to.  My wife had looked around the corner of the mall and told me to come see.  She said there was a whole bunch of them lined up back there.  So, being the ass that I am, I turned on the video recording function of my camera and recorded as I walked down the side of the mall.  How many prostitutes can you count in the video below?

There’s the girl all in white, the group sitting by the curb, and obviously the ‘couple’ against the wall who were negotiating a price as we walked by.  The inside of the mall was even more packed.  By the back entrance there was another group of them chatting as they waited for potential customers, as well as isolated pairs standing around.  They always seemed to be in groups of two or larger, except when they were appeared to be negotiating.  It was somehow exciting to see so many women engaged in an act that we considered wrong and criminal so blatantly plying their trade in an otherwise picturesque part of Singapore.

As we left the mall we speculated on whether or not President Obama would be put up at the hotel across the street, and what Michelle might think about it all.  We also saw some of the girls that we’d seen standing around in or on the side of Orchard Towers moving up the road a bit and engaging potential customers.

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that I don’t condone prostitution, nor am I posting this for the sake of directing people where to get paid sex. I’m just detailing an aspect of Singapore that I discovered while living here. What you do with this information is up to you. So, if you go to Orchard Towers, get paid sex and then find out you have black syphilis and can’t return to your country due to health reasons, don’t blame me alright?