Silver (money) grows in the “virgin room”.— Brothel owner
If I can sell her virginity twice, I double my investment.— Brothel owner
Sometimes, I have to teach them with the stick.— Woman owner of “sex coffee shop”
We think: if she's young, she's clean — no AIDS.— Customer in a massage parlour
U.S. anti-drug assistance to the Burmese government has failed …— Robert S. Gelbard,
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
The road to hell is paved with good intentions … and it's the best paved road in Bangkok.— Anonymous
This chapter is a preliminary attempt to share some thoughts on two topics that have compelled attention — public or private — in most human societies: sex and drugs. Or more precisely, the relationship between sex and drugs; not as conjectured (or remembered) by the worried parents of teenage daughters, but as commodities in international trade. In the specific case of mainland Southeast Asia and China, what is the relationship through time of opiate production to the production of sexual services?
The mythic narrative of narcotics and sexual degradation (and like many mythic narratives, it embodies elements of “reality”) can be read in newspapers, quoted from non-governmental organization (NGO) reports, or seen on TV:
Miba, innocent and simple hill tribe girl from the “colorful” Akha tribe, is rescued from a brothel (often by the BBC, CH-4, ABC, or “60 Minutes” film crew). She has been sold by her father, who is an unrepentant heroin addict. Desperate for money to feed his vile habit (but not, the implication goes, desperate enough to work for it), he (supposedly) sees his daughters as a crop to be harvested when they are ripe.
There frequently follows a learned interview that calls for the reform of patriarchal societies and explains that “Asian Cultures” (all of them!) have always devalued daughters, which was why Miba was sold in the first place.