There are stories, too, of breathtaking naïveté, of young Moldovans giddy because they’ve got contracts to work as cocktail waitresses in Kabul, of peasants in Mindanao who believe a low-rent gangster when he promises to make them cabaret stars in Manila or Tokyo, of foolish girls who actually The great bulk of the business, though, is far more prosaic, a function of simple economics, the ageless enterprise of women willingly selling their most easily marketed assets.It can be condemned by feminist theory and religious mores, and the key adverb— is also a relative term: For people with limited options, the few that remain don’t seem so unreasonable. In an age of easy international travel, when borders are not much sturdier than lines drawn on a map, both sides of the trade—supply and demand—have become industrialized.Put her thousands of miles away, in Tokyo or Moscow, or put her on the other side of the globe, in Costa Rica or Mexico. The story will be the same, the beginning sounding like the setup to an old and dirty joke: So many girls walk into so many bars today that no one even tries to count them all.
The men—” ‘mongers” or “hobbyists,” in the fraternal jargon of the hardcore sex traveler—generally drift in the other direction, from rich to poor, from the United States and Australia and Britain and Japan and the rest of the First World into the Second and Third Worlds.That’s how it happened, just like that: A little girl walks into a bar and gets a job.“Hey.” Big Daddy again, out there beyond the strobe of the stage lights. His name is Thomas Glenn Jarrell, an Ohio native who did a tour in the army before settling in a dirty little city that is moderately famous simply because it has bars, dozens of them, and girls, thousands of them, and only eighteen bucks a night. Wrap her naked around a pole or put her in a room with a big glass window and a flock of other girls, bored and trying not to look it, waiting to be picked like lobsters from a tank.Move her down to Manila and pay her more, or move her up the coast to a shack on the National Highway and pay her less.Thailand, for instance, a notorious and well-studied sexual playground for foreign men, has either 75,000 prostitutes, as the government claims, or depending on which aid group is tossing out numbers, nearly 2 million who generate of the country’s gross domestic product—parameters calibrated so widely as to be virtually useless as an accounting tool.The sex-trade data are so imprecise that researchers and government agencies shorthand the global total to a generic tens of millions of women and girls generating tens of billions in cash. A Filipino bar girl doesn’t care whether she is one of 50,000 (the low end) or 800,000 (the high end), and a john in a Russian brothel doesn’t concern himself with the millions of women he could theoretically be renting, because the ten or twenty at hand are more than enough.