COLOMBO : Amidst a severe economic crunch which has left people across the country facing severe hardships, one of the sector’s which has also suffered a severe blow is prostitution.
In an undercover story done by Daily Mirror, some women and even men, forced into prostitution to survive the economic crisis and look after their families said that they had turned to sex as this was the only stable income available and charges had increased as the old rates could no longer provide a basic meal to their families.
Some of the packages charged vary from a minimum of Rs.7,500 per hour which include the room decided by the woman or man and other services offered. The charges go up to even Rs.50,000 to Rs.100,000 a night, but this depends on the services offered and the women and men booked.
Some sites adveritising such offers by women and even men, say they are receiving an increasing number of ads by adults who are available for sex especially after the economic crisis.
Before the economic crisis, such services offered by women and men were available for even as low as Rs.2000 per hour, but presently to make ends meet, the charges have risen considerably.
An investigation done by Daily Mirror showed that some sites had over 20 such advertisements within an hour. And the sites kept updating with new adults on offer.
Some ads show services available even outside Colombo including in the other provinces.
The most common places where such activities take place are low end spas. Police said that following tip off’s received, such spas are continuously raided and the spa owners and managers are arrested. Some of the men pose as masseurs and offer their services through these spas to high end clients.
Presently, there is no single provision in the Sri Lankan law that women can be charged for prostitution. However the police apply the provisions of the vagrants ordinance and the brothel ordinance.
Recently, Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake acquitting a woman arrested in a brothel on charges of prostitution said it was not considered an offence in Sri Lanka for a woman to earn a living through prostitution but however it was an offence to operate a brothel.
Citing two major superior court judgments (Saibo vs Chellam and Coore vs James Appu), he said, “prostitution is not an offence per se under our law” and that the Vagrants Ordinance and the Brothel Ordinance are the laws that govern prostitution in Sri Lanka.
The Magistrate said, the Vagrants Ordinance only deals with a prostitute when she is behaving in a riotous or disorderly manner in any public street or highway (Sections 2 and 9) while the Brothel Ordinance provides punishment against any person who keeps or manages or acts or assists in the management of a brothel (Section 2).
He said there were no prevailing laws in Sri Lanka since colonial times against a woman who independently engaged in prostitution as a means of earning a living and acquitted the woman who was arrested in the brothel because her act was not recognized as an offence under the Vagrants Ordinance and the Brothel Ordinance.
Considering the possibility that such a woman could be charged for aiding and abetting the management in operating the brothel, the Magistrate said, “a woman, who is kept in a brothel for purpose of consorting with men cannot be charged for assisting in the management of the brothel (Abeykoon vs Kulatunga)” Daily Mirror Special Report