Sunday, November 9, 2008
Prostitution is technically illegal in Chile. However, the state realizes that it has no way to effectively prevent prostitution from happening and has chosen to regulate it by issuing suspected "providers" certificates of good health upon completion of a monthly checkup. Thus, for all intents and purposes, prostitution is quasi-legal in Chile.
Like in most counties of Nevada where prostitution is outright legal, prostitutes are regulated by the state and must have monthly examinations to ensure that they are disease-free. Although some prostitutes may be seen in the high-end barrios of Santiago (e.g., along Avenida Apoquindo or close to it) and in some other cities (e.g., near major ports where the weather is not too cold), most prostitutes merely advertise in the local paper and leave a phone number, age, and often a price (which typically ranges from $20 to $50). Local people are accustomed to having these prostitutes around and have learned to put up with them or ignore them, just as Americans have learned to put up with or ignore abortion clinics and homosexual bars.
Adultery is not unusual in Chile and some women or men even recommend prostitutes to others on occasion as a "normal" or even "acceptable" means for having a good time. It seems that the existence of prostitutes makes Chilean women all the more zealous to watch over their husbands and boyfriends, since such "predators" are so abundant and available at a moment's notice. I met one man who was constantly being called by his fiance. She was literally worried sick while he was out of town on business for fear that he would take the opportunity to sleep with another woman for a small fee. I also went to a dancing and music club with a new friend one evening, full of people, and my friend's finance was so worried that he was there near other women that it made her sick too and she ran down to join us lest he get involved with another woman. (All we were doing was talking over a drink.)
But being a prostitute is highly frowned upon by Chileans, even by those who partake of the services. A woman (and there are even a few male and transvestite ones) who undertakes this profession will damage her reputation irreparably and suffer much harm in life. They are not well treated by their "customers."
(Of course, I am writing this report based on what people have told me and not from experience!)
However, there are ways that young women in Chile have found to avoid the problems of damaging their reputation. Some of the more audacious Chilean women or men ("pimps" or "cabronas/cabrones") have set up houses in remote areas of Chile, usually near a port or a mining or forestry town where men are away from their wives and family for long periods of time, and they recruit young women to "work" there for a year.
For poorer women, many of whom might be quite intelligent, temporary prostitution is a means to pay for college. At the age of 18 or 19 they simply tell their friends and family that they are going to live in another part of the country for a year just to enjoy something new, perhaps working in a restaurant or hotel to make ends meet while they "see the country." It is considered to be a logical "break" after high school, just like many young people in American take to go to Europe. But the whole scenario is a fraud. In fact, they travel to a remote place and live in a house of prostitution for a year, soiling themselves with hundreds of men, and saving a huge amount of money for college in the process that they could not have hoped to gain in 5 or 10 years of working at an unskilled job. Then each young woman returns to her home town, enroll in college, and begin dating as if nothing had happened during that year in which she was a prostitute.
Some young women in university towns are yet more bold. They "work part time" as prostitutes for 2 or 3 evenings a week, sure to be home in bed early enough to get some rest prior to classes the next day. People think she is going out with friends when in fact she has a contract with a pimp to help her get some considerable spending money for 10 to 15 hours per week. These women may even have steady boyfriends who have no idea what they are up to (see the blog entry People lie in Chile). Then again, the girlfriends don't always know what the boyfriends are doing either.
There are also many prostitutes who work in the "profession" to support their children whom were either born out of wedlock or which were left over from a marriage that went sour. It is a sad case indeed, but one can understand the temptation these ladies face when one considers that these young women can earn 5 to 10 times (maybe more) than they can working a normal unskilled job. One of the consequences of having a loose society in which abortion is frowned upon (and is actually a crime--manslaughter) is that prostitution will occur. These women are, thankfully, having their babies rather than aborting them. As a result, they must seek a means to support their children. So one is left to wonder which is better: to live in a society where the unborn are slain legally and prostitution is criminalized, or to live in a society which criminalizes abortion and legalizes and regulates prostitution. There are no easy answers to two perfectly bad scenarios.
Of course, prostitution has its ultimate downside in this world as women age and reach the end of beauty's shelf life. Those who cannot hide the fact that they were once prostitutes are doomed to a life in later years (starting at around age 35) of poverty and grief. Others who can successfully hide their actions can end up being quite prosperous and even appear astute in their choices. But the risk is great: burn-out, loss of self-esteem, suicide, loss of reputation potential, inability to marry and have children if discovered, living as a poor single parent possibly. Legal prostitution is indicative of the tragedy of the human condition, just as abortion is in the USA.
Note: I write in this blog about just about every topic under the sun. Check out the archives. People with conservative values want to know what to expect in a new country like Chile, both good and bad. I think this post is especially important for American women to know about since the existence of prostitution could have a direct effect on their husbands and marriages. I realize that some sensitive people could be offended by the frank discussion above but in my view as a ex-pat consultant it is better to be informed than ignorant.
Posted by Escape America: Offshore & Ex-Pat Relocation Svcs at 2:11 PM