Prostitution in Singapore

S.E.X. Shop

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.)

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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.

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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.

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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?

A View of Orchard Road From the Lucky Plaza Mall

Orchard Road is the main shopping strip in Singapore and is well maintained by the government to present the best image possible to foreigners who are in the country.  You can find everything from Louis Vuitton to McDonald’s there.

I read an article recently that was talking about counterfeiting in Singapore, and wrote a post about it because I saw it for myself, and it was saying that it is very prevalent, but they keep Orchard clear of it.  Well, as much as possible anyway.  Not that I can blame them for it.  Singapore wants to present the best image possible to tourists, and they want that image to be clean and law abiding.  I guess getting Singapore 100% free of bootleg items is impossible given the nature of the surrounding countries.

Regardless, Orchard Road is filled with malls that are very clean and posh looking, including the new Ion mall that was recently opened.  Lucky Plaza, however, is the ugly kid on the block.  Lucky Plaza is a sort of ‘bargain bin’ mall, with a lot of little shops that have, honestly, cheap looking products.  The whole interior of the mall has sort of a cheap feel to it actually.  It’s also acquired a reputation of being the Filipino mall in Singapore, since a majority of the shops there are run by Filipinos and there are mostly Filipino eateries on the top floor.  There are also quite a few money remitting establishments there.  Money remitters are where people go in Singapore to send money back to their home countries.  It goes without saying that most of the patrons in Lucky Plaza are Filipinos.

Those things together make Lucky Plaza a somewhat undesirable place to visit for most locals.  Adding to that negative reputation is the rumor that a portion of the Filipinas that hang around in the mall are prostitutes.  It could be true.  I don’t know.  That sort of behavior isn’t just limited to Lucky Plaza though.  There’s a rumor that if you go towards the end of Orchard Rd, where it meets Tanglin Rd, there are prostitutes there as well.  So, it looks like the hookers are slowly making their way out of Geylang!

Still, Lucky Plaza’s not that bad a place.  The Filipino food is cheap and good.  You can get products there that aren’t available in many other places in Singapore.  Also, there are imported products from the Philippines, which is probably what initially drew such a predominately Filipino crowd.

And, there’s a nice view from the balcony, as seen in the photos above!