Rosemary McLeod: paying for sex or residency

Men are weird, and also lazy. That is why we have prostitution. Seduction can take weeks, you see, and cost several restaurant meals, whereas the preamble to having it off with a prostitute need take only minutes.

I remember seeing the hookers in Sydney's King's Cross for the first time. At a second glance you saw the needle marks in their arms, and their dirty feet with broken toenails. Yet they were busy plying their trade, and the men who used them didn't give a damn about their dead eyes.

It gave me a lasting, unpleasant impression of the men who use such women, and how they probably feel about women in general.

A recent article about the trade here assured us that the line of work is hunky-dory, and female students (brains are always a selling point with these stories) are earning megabucks to pay for their degrees.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

One young part-timer was quoted as saying her father was not alarmed when she told him what she was up to.

I wonder what her mother said.

Sex workers lament that there's still a stigma attached to the job. A reason is that when people talk about feeling prostituted in their line of work they tend to mean they have to repress the better hopes they have for themselves, and any real talent, to earn a buck at something they hate.

One Wellington madam was quoted as saying, "Your daughter working as a sex worker is not what you want for her, and that will take a while to change."

Indeed. The day when mothers hand their daughters over cheerily to brothel keepers will be the day we've sunk well and truly into third-world status, and desperate poverty.

Just think of the glamour of it in Thailand, or the former Soviet Union. I've seen desperate young Russian women in Berlin, too, touting for trade half-naked in the cold because their world had been turned upside-down by politics. They didn't look thrilled about it. But men never seem to mind that.

Then there's prostitution of a national kind, when you sell residency to foreigners for large sums. I am enthralled by the big police bust, north of Auckland, of internet millionaire Kim Dotcom, accused of piracy, racketeering and money-laundering.

The plotline to date reads like a trashy novel, what with the FBI being involved, the panic room in his $30 million rented mansion, the 18 luxury cars, and licence plates wittily reading POLICE, STONED, GUILTY and MAFIA.

The FBI, who led the crackdown against Dotcom and others, claims their websites generated hundreds of millions in criminal proceeds, and $623 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content.

The chubby Mr Dotcom is German and had previously been convicted of insider trader and computer hacking. He was granted residency last year under the Government's Investor Plus category, which requires applicants to invest $10 million for three years.

Only time will uncover the full effects of letting in foreigners so long as they can throw money around - unless we're selling the unique attraction of being a bolt-hole thousands of miles from anywhere for people to whom that holds much appeal.

As for paid sex, I am much taken by the report of an Auckland woman who enticed men to her home via the internet, where she and her boyfriend waited with weapons, intending robbery.

When they were caught, among the stolen goods recovered was - excuse my laughter - a charm bracelet.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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