The subject of prostitution raises issues relating to basic human rights, morality, employment and working conditions, gender discrimination, health threats, and criminality. To help define the challenges and dilemmas confronting governments around the world, this book includes case studies from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. They show that, like other economic sectors, prostitution has well organized and highly diversified structures, and involves complex economic relations that give it the dimensions of an industry. In addition to its economic bases, prostitution has social components relating to unequal relations between men and women, as well as between children and parents.
The national studies show that the circumstances of those in prostitution range from freely chosen and remunerative employment to debt bondage and virtual slavery. The different modes of entry into the sector, and the possibility of making a distinction between voluntary and coerced prostitution, help explain why it is difficult for policymakers and legislators to define a clear legal stance on adult prostitution, or to implement effective social programs. A chapter on child prostitution shows clearly that it constitutes a serious human rights violation and an intolerable form of child labor.