In this week’s issue of Times, there was a write up on how Afghan women have progressed since the US invasion and the removal of Taliban. The Afghan government is now negotiating for a truce with the Taliban which might see them returning to power, and that frightens the women there. One teenage married woman who had ran away from her husband had her ears and nose sliced off by her in-law’s relatives with the approval of a judge despite her plead that her husband had abused her. So even without the Taliban in government, Afghan women are still treated badly by the males in society. However, because of new constitutions after the US invasion, many girls now have a chance of education and women hold jobs, even on TV. Thus they cannot ever imagine returning to Taliban rules and hope the US will remain.
Last Sunday in the New Paper was an article about ‘high class’ call girls at the Orchard triangle. Incase you are wondering where that is, it comprises three buildings – Orchard Plaza, Cuppage Plaza and Concorde Hotel (old Meridian Hotel). I had dinner at Orchard Point once and was waiting for Mike at the back of Cuppage Plaza when I actually witnessed these girls accosting men (which I now know after reading the article that they are most probably Japanese.) Naive as I was then, I immediately pointed them out to Mike when he arrived and we watched them in action for a few minutes. I was amazed that these things are happening at the heart of Orchard Rd. The girls who were interviewed are mostly China nationals and Filipinas. One was an ex-maid who found these jobs more lucrative. Most would end up having sex with their clients despite what they said about being higher class than their Geylang sisters.
Reading about these women makes me feel so lucky that I am a Singaporean woman. This is not the first time I have felt this way. In June while I was in Phuket, I learned from my host Bar that she had been held up at immigration in Changi Airport for nearly an hour during her trip here in April, all because she was a Thai woman travelling alone. The officers interviewed her and didn’t believe her reason that she was here for a vacation. It was her first time travelling by plane and the experience at the Changi Airport really frightened her. I had felt sorry for her yet at the same time relieved that I was never subjected to such treatment in all my years of travelling alone.
While chatting at Patong beach, Bar and I watched as three women, stripped down to their bikinis, took turns to pose for photos in the waves for each other. Men, including old angmohs (who can be found all over Phuket), gawked and stared during the one hour exhibition. Bar commented that they must be from the North, for Southern Thai women would never wear such skimpy attire in public, much less pose in front of men in such seductive manners. And there I was, thinking these girls must be from Singapore, for Thai women would not be so shameless as to attract attention like that.
Both of us may be too judgemental, but I think we share the same thoughts. Women should have more dignity and fight for their rights, like our Afghan sisters. The ‘high class’ call girls coming to Singapore subject genuine travellers like Bar through unnecessarily humiliation.