In business, it’s not just about brokering deals; it’s about drinks and entertainment, and sadly, who you supply to sweeten the deal. How does one educate business folk that young girls and boys are not to be touched?
A few months ago, yours truly and friends were invited to a little do at a posh nightclub. Once in a while, this writer needs an airing, so off she went with her friends.
Let’s just say the club was a bastion of Malay Datukness, if there is such a term. It was filled with men who smoked cigars, and we recognised a number of faces, all seen in business pages. The men oozed wealth and knew it. The place, situated in a hotel right smack in the city, had been heralded as the place to be seen.
It was a departure from my idea of a night out. Then again, my friends and I prefer quiet dinners with our boyfriends and close friends, so that night, was quite a revelation, to say the least.
The women who were there, I hesitate to say and judge, were not there to dance. They were there for the “kill” as they eyed their prey.
It was halfway through the soiree when two young women appeared at our tiny table. We initiated small talk but they looked at us blankly.
A newly-made male acquaintance whispered to me that the two young women were 16 years old, and were there to look for rich boyfriends. No, they were not working girls. They went to a school nearby.
The two butterflies then moved on to flit on a more prosperous table, filled with laughter and cigar smoke. In a matter of minutes, they were well acquainted with the men.
Women hunting for rich men as husbands or paramours are nothing new. Growing up, there were a few girls in class who aspired to be that: wives of rich men.
But still, as I sat in a corner, observing the two young women, whiling their youth away, as they flirted with the men, and were grabbed at by their newfound companions, I wondered to myself, why, why weren’t these girls at home?
Perhaps I may come off as naive, but at 16, whether one is a boy or girl, he or she should be doing what 16-year-olds do.
Studying, playing with PSII, arguing with parents over why he flunked Maths again.
For 16-year-old girls, they should be playing around with make-up and clothes, and talking about love and pop stars. And, who they want to be when they are 21.
My friends and I left at 11.30 in the evening, to our great relief. I dashed home eagerly €“ a pile of books was waiting to be read €“ having gleaned some useless information from the outing such as recognising the difference between Trophy Wife Hair and Mistress Hair.
But I was disturbed by what I had seen, and conveyed that to a few colleagues who worked with children and youth rights, and child trafficking.
Horrifying stories of VIPs and rich businessmen molesting underage girls waitressing at clubs emerged.
“Hey, I’m a VIP, I can do whatever I want. Besides, it’s consensual,” these men say.
It is one thing to educate parents and children about their rights over their bodies and themselves, but how does one educate the business community that young girls and boys are not to be touched?
In business, it’s not just about brokering deals; it’s about drinks and entertainment, and sadly, who you supply to sweeten the deal.
This is a business truth, and has existed for thousands of years.
The commoditisation of youth and sex has a huge appeal to a number of businessmen. It feeds their egos, and it shows off their power.
They forget that they have daughters at home, while they play with schoolgirls their daughters’ age. Sometimes, it is young boys.
Impresarios of the night know, to pull in the big bucks, young, fresh blood is desirable. Teenagers whose youth and enthusiasm light up the night, and laughter which will ring in the dawn. This underage limit restriction they say they have is just a front. Who does not love a good party?
And parents. Socially ambitious mothers. You’d be very surprised. Nothing to do with poverty, though it can be a push-factor.
A few aspirant mothers train their daughters to do whatever it takes to get there. Sometimes you see these young women, and yes, boys in events and society pages and wonder whether the problem really lies with you, because of your human rights sensibilities.
“Oh, that’s nothing. Wait until you meet my eight-year-old sex workers,” a colleague sighed. Even at that age, these young children already know the power of seduction.
Who then takes care of the children? The state? Ngos? Parents will cry out against the invasion of their rights as parents. But are some parents capable of caring for their children?
In my work, I meet many people. I think I can’t be shocked anymore, but always, something will throw me for the loop.
A young up-and-coming professional bragged to me, how he only beds young girls between the ages of 17 to 19, whom he meets at clubs, because “… they’re cleaner, and haven’t been around too much”.
I read international media reports on how young American girls all want to be Britney, Paris, Lindsay, and think, it’s the same everywhere. Why do I have to make this my battle?
Is my childhood, my colleagues’ childhoods, the childhoods these young children should have? Would these kids want to trade places and play with cowpat, dash into the sea and be chased by irate goats?
All I can say is, that night, what I saw, was wrong. For sure, these street-wise 16-year-old girls would grimace at what we think is the right childhood for them. Maybe they’re happy.
But at 16, or eight, or whatever age a boy or girl is, they shouldn’t be selling their souls that way.