How times have changed

Now they do it for free.  Pan-pan girls.

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5 comments on “How times have changed

  1. Petra says:

    Well… it was a way to survive.

    The same happened in post-war Germany.

    Interesting fact as an aside how whole cultures can adapt to certain aspects of “morality”:

    After WW II there were a lot of war widows in Germany. These women, many with children, were granted a (rather smallish) state pension, which – together with what little they could earn from having a job – made it possible for them and their children so survive. However, if they got married again they lost this pension. The reasoning was that with a male in the house you had somebody who could provide for you.

    Of course this was not always the case, with jobs even for men being scarce and salaries low. So many of these widows started living with men in partnerships without getting married. Under normal circumstances this would have been frowned upon by friends and neighbors, these women and their children would have been little more than outcasts. With war widows it was different – society did realize that these women had been screwed over enough and this type of “unruly” behavior was forgiven. One did not talk about it, one accepted it, at least for a while.( Acceptance diminished the more the longer the end of the war slipped into the past, until society did a complete turnaround, which only ended with “the new Freedom” of females at the end of the ’60s, feminism etc. etc. etc.)

    Of course these partnership were in fact like marriages – they tended to last until one of the partners died. On the other hand they did not have any of the perks (tax wise, re. inheritance laws, status of children born etc.) associated with marriage in Germany.

    There was even a certain trapdoor one could fall into, a German law called “Kuppel-Paragraph.” This law was originally put into place to prevent the letting of rooms for the simple purpose of fornication; however, if one came across some really narrow minded person, this person might also apply this rule to people not being married sharing the same apartment. This law was scrapped in 1973.

    Sorry about this long ramble – it just came to mind reading the stuff about post-war Japan.

  2. Karen says:

    I’m sure Japan and Germany were not the only countries to see a huge rise in prostitution post-war. For all that I’m a feminist, I’ve always had a rather lenient attitude towards prostitution. I’ve sometimes wondered who is the victim. I think it largely depends on how and why the woman went into prostitution. We really might as well legalize it. It isn’t going to go away.

  3. Miko says:

    “… how whole cultures can adapt to certain aspects of “morality”” That is a very pithy point, Petra, nicely put. One of my old (very old!) drinking buddies who was here during the Occupation period told me that it was not uncommon for young prostitutes to retire, return to their rural hometowns, marry local boys, and buy property and farms with the money that they’d saved from their working-girl days. Everyone knew how the money had been come by, but politely ignored it.

    I’ve also read that most of the pan-pan girls were war orphans. Japanese society is not kind to orphans even now, so it doesn’t surprise me that they were left to fend for themselves.

    In Japan, the sex trade is regarded as fallback work for single mothers (the social welfare system is not very well developed even now). You wouldn’t believe the number of people who have told me how lucky I am to be a native English speaker, and I guess they are right, as I really have no other marketable skills at all (save the obvious one!).

  4. Miko says:

    I agree Karen, I think prostitution should be legalised, obviously with very stringent restrictions. It’s never going to go away. They don’t call it “the oldest profession in the world” for nothing, after all.

  5. Petra says:

    Again – Germany as an example: Since 2001 working as a prostitute is seen as a regular job tax wise. You pay taxes, you have access to the health service (by paying into it), you pay into the retirement fond to get a pension after you are 65.

    In order to have all of this happen you have to comply with the law, of course. Prostitution is not allowed everywhere (there are rather strict rules where the services can be offered), you have to have regular medical check-ups (every 2 weeks, as far as I know).

    Illegal prostitution, underage prostitution, trafficking in females of course is forbidden and is cracked down upon severely.

    I must say, this way of handling it seems to me much more straightforward than what I see here in our charming city – where prostitution is illegal, of course, which does not seem to reduce one bit the number of professionals of all genders peddling their wares on the streets to the more than willing and eager customers.

    Legalize it already! Give the professionals a chance to do their job somewhat safely and protected. Things don’t go away by labelling them illegal.

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