Economic Crisis and the Rise of Prostitution
In the face of a severe economic crisis, women in Sri Lanka are finding themselves with limited options for employment. As the textile industry crumbles, some women, particularly those previously employed in the sector, are turning to prostitution as an alternative means of making a living. This shift in employment dynamics is not only a consequence of economic desperation but also a response to the fear of losing their jobs.
A Growing Trend
Makeshift brothels are becoming increasingly common in Sri Lanka, often disguising themselves as Ayurvedic spas or simple chambers with hung curtains and makeshift beds. These establishments provide women, who were previously engaged in the textile industry, with the opportunity to sell sex to sustain themselves. The situation has worsened to such an extent that even as recently as January of this year, women from the textile industry have resorted to engaging in sex work.
The motivation behind this transition is primarily a financial one. The textile industry, already crippled by the economic crisis, offers meager salaries, with a monthly income averaging around Rs 28,000. The maximum earnings, even with overtime, rarely exceed Rs 35,000. In contrast, sex work provides the potential to earn over Rs 15,000 per day. Despite the controversial nature of this decision, it is a fact that some women feel this is their best option for financial survival.
A Dire Situation
The dire state of affairs is not limited to Sri Lanka alone. Reports from various sources, including The Morning and the UK’s Telegraph, indicate a significant increase in the number of women entering the sex industry in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo. These women, who previously worked in the textile industry, are relocating from rural areas to urban centers in search of better opportunities. Stand Up Movement Lanka (SUML), a leading advocacy group for sex workers, attests to this trend.
The Plight of Desperation
Ashila Dandeniya, the Executive Director of SUML, highlights the desperation of these women as they strive to support their families. Sex work, despite its potential risks, offers the promise of quick money, making it one of the few remaining professions in Sri Lanka that can provide financial stability in such trying times.
Factors Driving the Change
The shift towards sex work can be attributed to several factors. The textile industry suffers from rampant inflation, rendering wages increasingly insufficient. Additionally, the scarcity of essential goods, such as fuel, food, and medicine, has further contributed to the desperate circumstances these women find themselves in. Reports even suggest that some women are forced to trade sexual favors with local shopkeepers in exchange for basic necessities.
The sex trade has permeated various locations, including the industrial zone near Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport. Shockingly, these establishments allegedly operate under the protection and regulation of the police. It is disheartening to learn that many women are coerced into engaging in sexual relationships with law enforcement officers by the brothel owners, supposedly in exchange for this protection.
The Grim Reality
As if the situation were not dire enough, reports reveal that these women are frequently compelled to engage in unsafe sexual practices at the insistence of their clients. These customers range from academics to members of organized crime. With alternative employment opportunities dwindling, even the agricultural sector failing to provide viable options, these women find themselves trapped with very limited choices.
DHPL Travels is keenly aware of the difficult circumstances faced by many individuals in Sri Lanka. We strive to shed light on the various facets of the country, including its social and economic challenges. To learn more about Sri Lanka and plan your visit, please visit DHPL Travels. We encourage you to engage with us to understand the complexities of the destinations you wish to explore.
“Let us explore and support the people and communities of Sri Lanka together.”