Some sources say the recession is good for the sex industry (people always need sex, or it’s a distraction from problems or release from stress), while other sources say businesses are suffering. Mostly such stories are speculative and anecdotal. The reporter of a story about Malaysia has relied on just a few sources, too, but one is a guy who gives more details about money than usual. Note the ambiguity about declaring income and paying tax, or not. These are excerpts from the story. NB: Conversion: 1 RM = .20 euro
The New Straits Times, Singapore
25 May 2009
By David Yeow
. . . solicited sex in Malaysia is going through a boom. Sources in the local prostitution scene say they raked in more than RM3.2 billion last year. And that’s just the earnings of sex workers, not including the income of pimps and other spin-offs.
. . . a prostitute usually works a seven-day week, charging RM150 an hour. “Serving an average of eight clients a day, she ends up making RM1,200 daily and possibly RM36,000 a month”
. . . the syndicates that run the brothels usually have up to 100 girls under them. This could mean that a syndicate could rake in about RM120,000 a day and a whopping RM3.6 million a month. . . Malaysia has hundreds of such syndicates, each operating several brothels in their designated areas.
Many brothels in Malaysia double as “health centres” offering massage services. . . clients are willing to pay from RM60 to RM100 for an hour of massage, followed by an additional RM150 for sex. “Prostitutes who double as massage ladies also get a fee from their handlers for massage services, usually about RM20 per customer.” . . . eight out of 10 customers will have intercourse with their masseuse, the remaining two might opt for lesser services such as foreplay.
So, in addition to as much as RM36,000 monthly from sex alone, a prostitute can add on another RM9,000 for offering “half services”, bringing her monthly untaxed income to a whopping RM45,000 (RM540,000 per annum).
. . . “RM200 a day wages for massaging an average of 10 customers . . . a legitimate RM5,200 a month or RM62,400 a year. They can choose to pay tax on that, but most don’t.” Pimps . . . usually collect about RM3,000 a month from each sex worker they manage.
Another recent story claimed the opposite, however: ‘Brothels and pimps in Kuala Lumpur are marketing prostitutes as “rent a wife” packages for 6 to 24 hours, says a local tabloid.’
It’s pretty much impossible to know the facts about money made in the grey economy.
– Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist