Maldives is probably on an all time high on prostitution these days. That, or there simply is more acceptance of the presence of this wider social phenomenon...

Much of this year, media coverage and casual gossip OD'ed on the "Fable of the Massage Parlours and Spas". Folklore has it that this started out when word spread around town that the tsunami that brought much destruction in December 2004 was the result of disobedience to God. The abundance of sinful sexual activity was soon attributed to as being the culprit and somehow massage parlours veered into the limelight. An operation was soon concocted by the religious core who considered the more intimate male to female interaction that occurs in a massage session as acts of utter sin. The operation became much easier when a large chunk of the populace, the all too powerful housewives, sided with them. These house-bound women had been burning with fury and oozing green goo with jealous stares in seeing their husbands transcending the long held taboo of inter-gender physical touch. Of course it helped that they were totally ignorant of what a massage parlour actually is and had no freaking clue as to what a spa is. Ask any odd random housewife even now and one can be assured that their answer will begin with a few strong words as to how "bad" those places are. The whole fiasco turned into the real carnival it was after stories of sexual favours (in return for monetary compensation of course) taking place at some massage parlours moved from gossip and spread into the hands of the newly liberated journalists of the country. They dutifully reported the story, confident of it becoming top story on publication - afterall, the mere presence of the yucky words "sex", "prostitution" and man/woman together in one sentence would stir up a commotion. Massage parlours became the scape goat for the growing promiscuousity seen nation-wide!

However, most importantly, for most people the massage parlour event failed to acknowledge the larger truth. The *cough* brilliant, sane and logical *cough* decision by the government to make massage parlours and spas ILLEGAL in the country from August 2006 onwards managed to garner critical political support and successfully plastered the outrage. The fact that this was a single manifestation of a bigger problem - prostitution and its root causes ? was hushed into silence. Society still resists in fully accepting the reality of the situation. People give a blind eye to the alarming frequency of child molestation. It remains an unspoken topic driving its many victims full on into the psychological trauma that ensues. People also give a blind eye to the growing number of school leavers, many in teens, who turn to prostitution with its lure of better pay than the meager salary in any job in the country ? a fact that the new Minister of Gender and Family recently acknowledged and raised concerns over.

Isn?t it time that society wakes up from its delusional dream and start owning up to its failures? Quite a few people would be quick to blame the President and rant on and on about how he is named after a crustacean but reality is that by squaring the blame on a single person we are encouraging people to believe in the superiority of their own beliefs and actions and thus never participating the common man in the massive failure that left society the way it is now. It is time that sex, child abuse and everything taboo be explored for all the resultant issues stemming from such stifling and indiscriminantly labeling everything as taboo. Everyone can keep hold of their beliefs intact and dandy while addressing the more complex issues that arise as a developing identity-less society. It is time that the shamans of the society be discarded to make way for educated, rational approaches to life and not bask in the glory of ignorance and self-deceit. Then, and only then, might we have a chance of doing more than band-aid fixes?

Enough. I tune out...


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