Making money on sex in Malaysia: massage or ‘Rent a Wife?’

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

Malaysia: Sex sector does not need economic stiumulus

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

8 thoughts on “Making money on sex in Malaysia: massage or ‘Rent a Wife?’

  1. Tlönista

    A recent article in the Star indicates that the recession is affecting sex workers in Toronto; a variety of sources describe falling rates and a shortage of clients:

    The recession has seen the street price of oral sex, the most common service, plummet from $60 last fall to $20 today. “Full service” involving intercourse has dropped from $150 to $80.

    And it’s not just street prostitutes who are being hit. Escort workers, both those with agencies and independents, report a 15 per cent decline in clients, says Valerie Scott, executive director of Sex Professionals of Canada, a volunteer group working toward the decriminalization of sex work.

    As well, she says, the clients they do have are scrimping.

    “If they had previously paid for an hour, they are now going for half an hour. Or they are having only three sessions a month, not four.”

    Toronto’s sex trade workers began feeling the pinch of the economic meltdown last fall.

    “That’s been the vibe on the street since October,” says Scott. “How we are doing is a reliable indicator of how the economy is doing.”

    Wendy Babcock, 29, a harm-reduction worker with Street Health, says the weekly prostitute drop-in she runs has been dominated by concerns about dropping prices.

    She has noticed escorts dropping their prices dramatically in their advertisements on the back pages of local free newspapers.

    An hour and a half in the prostitute’s home with the client’s choice of services “used to be $250, and now they are asking for $60 or $80,” she says.

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  3. michael

    the economic recession made a lot of workers jobless. my best friend and me lost our jobs because of job cuts. i hope that our economy would recover soon.

  4. Jenna

    the Economic recession made a lot of jobless people in my own country. We could only hope that our economy becomes strong again.

  5. Janet Reyes

    Our country was also hit hard by the Economic Recession. At least we are seeing some signs of economic recovery now. I hope that we could recover soon from this recession.

  6. Cameron

    Our country had been so much affected by this Economic Recession. there are lots of job cuts and company shutdowns. We are seeing some signs of economic recovery right now and we hope that it would continue.

  7. jack

    Prostitute, celebrity with prostitution activity should be arrested in Malaysia.

    The particular location like Pandan Indah Cheras, Jalan Ampang, Puchong, Kajang, Klang are flooded with prostitution activity. Prostitute now accompany with boy friend or so call husbund to run these secret and sinful sex business. They disturbing public and make disgusting act by asking prostitute to lure public (by show off women breast infront of people .Such stupid act is disgusting.

    Police should arrest all prostitutte in Malaysia


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