Parrenas argues that the US government’s campaign against global sex-trafficking “poses a setback to the emancipation of women. It has stripped thousands of migrant women of their livelihood, forcing them to stay at home, often in impoverished conditions. I challenge the identification of migrant Filipina hostesses as sex-trafficked persons.”
Ms.Parrenas speaks from experience.
“I SPENT nine months in Tokyo working as a hostess in a working-class club in one of the city’s many red-light districts, frequented by members of the yakuza, the Japanese crime syndicates. This type of place, in a seedy location, owned by a proprietor with a questionable background, was often assumed to be a site of forced prostitution.
“In 2005 and 2006, I resorted to this work as a way of gaining access to the world of Filipina hostesses in Japan.During my first three months in Tokyo, I had struggled to meet hostesses willing to participate in my study of their conditions.
“After I began working as a hostess, every person I approached agreed to talk to me. By the end of my study, I had completed interviews with 56 Filipina hostesses: 45 females and 11 male-to-female transgendered individuals. After working just one week in a hostess bar, I realized I had entered an unfamiliar sexual world, where people are more open about their sexuality, where both customers and hostesses seem to be ready for extramarital affairs, and where men can sexually harass women with no punishment.
“This world has been condemned not only for its debauchery and criminal elements but also for “crimes against humanity.”
“What I discovered, in fact, was that these women come to Japan voluntarily and gratefully, knowing what their jobs will be.
“Unsubstantiated claims of the forced prostitution of Filipina hostesses are morally charged, and divert attention from the need for regulation and protection of sex workers.
“Hostesses don’t need to be rescued. They need the empowerment that comes from being independent labor migrants. Only then can they remain gainfully employed, free of migrant brokers, and have full control of their own lives.”
I wonder how women’s groups will react to her study.Anyway, check out the article. Better yet get a copy of her study.