Sex on Sunday: 17th-century Japanese prostitute wear, red-light fight in Taiwan and Saudis ban Moroccan women from pilgrimage

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The Front-Tied Obi Myth, at Wodeford Hall

Women tied their obi in front until the mid- to late 17th century, when obi got signficantly wider. From a simple sash only a couple of inches wide, suddenly one had this decorative yet inconvenient knot getting in one’s way. That’s when back-tied obi became fashionable, and when front tied obi became the mark of a courtesan or prostitute. [17th century painting above shows a ‘red light district’ with a caged window of a brothel and a woman with back-tied obi sitting on the porch.

Red light fight: sex work in Taiwan

Jonathan Adams at Global Post

Part of the problem in Taiwan is that the laws don’t make much sense. For decades prostitution was legal here. But since the 1990s, prostitutes have been punished under the Social Order Maintenance Act, COSWAS says. Pimps, middlemen and traffickers are dealt with under the criminal code, slapped with up to five years in jail or $3,300 fines. Johns aren’t penalized at all. That means it’s perfectly legal to pay for sex, but illegal to sell it. Taiwan’s courts found that arrangement unconstitutional in 2009, and demanded a change by November next year. Slide show.

Saudi ban on Moroccan women is a stereotype too far
Nesrine Malik for The Guardian

. . . Saudi Arabia banned Moroccan women “of a certain age” from umra (the lesser pilgrimage), for fear they would abuse theirs visas “for other purposes” even when they are accompanied by male relatives. This is a reference to an underground sex industry that is believed to be staffed by Arab women smuggled in from the Maghreb and north Africa. Short of calling all Moroccan women prostitutes and their men pimps, there is little more that could have been done to summarily insult the nation. The implication that Moroccans will exploit a visa for a sacred religious ritual to trade and facilitate sexual favours only serves to rub more salt into the wound.

– Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist

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