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September 7, 2000
Games spark sex boomPaul Majendie
For the world's oldest profession, the Olympics present a golden opportunity -- and Sydney's Millennium Games will be no different.
Police believe there could be an influx of Asian prostitutes from Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia to cope with extra demand as 750,000 people pour into the city for the Olympics.
And Sydney 2000 could see a rise in the number of "part-time and opportunistic" prostitutes tempted to take to the streets to make a fast buck, a police spokesman said on Wednesday.
But the visitor has an unusual alternative. Brothels are legal in the Australian state of New South Wales and so far the madames have been holding their prices steady -- half an hour with a prostitute costs $100 (US$57).
"It is no secret that there are organised Asian prostitution rings in Sydney," the police spokesman said. "Asian sex workers come from Thailand, the Philippines and sometimes Indonesia."
"There are a lot of clubs that cater specifically for Asians and they recruit directly. I know a number of these Asian clubs have indicated they are expecting a boom time," he added.
"You would probably see an increase in street prostitution over the Olympics," he said. "It would be fair to say we expect this to be in the mould of the part-time or the opportunistic."
The police spokesman said that the jury was still out on how effective the legalisation of prostitution had been.
"There are the pros and the cons. In terms of resources, we don't have to devote as many to the issue as it is legalised. But there is probably a little bit of a grey area in terms of spin-offs from extortion and organised crime," he said.
"The thinking is that regulatory control rather than prohibition will enable access by health and welfare services to the prostitutes. It will give the customer a better product and help people caught in the vicious circle of drugs and prostitution," he said.
Pockets of streetwalkers may crop up in certain areas of the city and police move speedily to stamp it out. "But the nature of the beast is that it will crop up again somewhere else," he said.
Around the world, prostitution has attracted organised crime, drug money and pimps and Sydney police are quick to concede they have a problem like every other city. But the police spokesman, who declined to be named, did say there was one distinctive difference in Sydney.
"Pimps haven't been a major problem. They are not your American-style pimps driving around in a flash car controlling a dozen girls."
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