Why would prostitution be ‘halal’ for foreigners?

Mustafa K. Anuar

Most foreign workers are here to earn an honest living, and should not be generalised as a lustful, 'less-than' group. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, January 12, 2024.

Commentary by Mustafa K. Anuar

IT’S unsurprising that a local actor’s suggestion to set up brothels for foreigners as a step to curb rape in Malaysia has shocked religious figures and social media users.  

He reportedly made the suggestion as he felt providing prostitutes would help solve a “problem” for male foreigners who left their wives behind. He has since apologised for making the remark.

It appears he was referring to foreigners working and living here long term.

For one, his proposal violates civil and shariah laws and goes against Islamic and many other religions’ teachings. Prostitution is indeed illegal in Malaysia.

That is why his suggestion befuddled concerned Malaysians who would assume the actor knew prostitution is not kosher. 

Unless, of course, one decides to be judgemental of the foreign workers, many of whom Malaysians generally look down upon..

Or, the rationale, if any, behind this suggestion could possibly be: maintain the foreigners in whatever way possible for as long as their invaluable services are needed. 

This patronising attitude stems from xenophobia and prejudice against foreign workers, especially when they are often associated with the kinds of work Malaysians generally despise – dangerous, dirty, and difficult.

Such a negative attitude is harboured by many Malaysians – including civil servants.

Foreign workers are generally regarded as people to be wary of. For instance, they have dedicated hostels, resulting in them being isolated from local communities.

They are viewed by some Malaysians as not having shared humanity, nor are their human dignity and rights generally respected.   

But ordinary Malaysians are happy their gated communities are kept safe by foreign guards, their luxury condominiums built on the backs of foreign workers, and bridges erected by foreigners, some of whom die under dire working conditions.  

As regards rape, it is not the “natural inclination” of foreign workers. Locals are equally capable of it. 

It is also offensive to cast aspersions on foreign workers and to assume their galloping hormones are beyond control, especially when their spouses are not around.  

Besides, rape is often misconstrued as solely an act of fulfilling one’s lust. It may also involve the male urge to dominate women and to derive pleasure from inflicting violence on women.

Misogyny is also a factor in men’s sexual crimes against women.

Of course, there are bad hats among foreigners, just as we have crooks, money laundering types, etc. in our midst. But we don’t tar all Malaysians with the same brush as one tends to do with foreign workers.  

Many foreign workers are here to earn an honest living, notwithstanding the various obstacles they might face daily.  

Let not our perspective of these foreigners be a sad reflection of our own questionable dignity. – January 12, 2024.

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