Thursday, May 15, 2003

Karl Horeis
Appeal staff writer

Visitors from Southeast Asia study Nevada's prostitution

Visitors from Southeast Asia studying United States policy got a bonus Wednesday — a spur-of-the-moment tour of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

As part of the Department of State's International Visitor's Program, nine people from across Southeast Asia have traveled from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles. There are three from the Philippines, two from both Thailand and Vietnam and one from both Indonesia and Malaysia.

During their two-day stay in Nevada, the group heard from state officials on elements of Nevada's legal prostitution, from health testing to the laws regulating brothels.

Giving historical background on the "world's oldest profession" Wednesday in the old Supreme Court Chambers at the Capitol were state archivist Guy Rocha and a spokesman for the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

Rocha's background started with the history of a state with a disproportionately large male population.

"The attitude on the frontier was, 'These men need an outlet,'" he said.

At that time Nevada was not exceptional for allowing the sale of sex — it happened in many cities.

"What made us exceptional was progressivism," he said. Nevada resisted the push to change human behavior by prohibiting it.

By the 1920s, the Silver State was the only one to allow prostitution.

As his history of the Nevada sex trade continued, it developed into a discussion of "healthy" and "normal" behavior.

A visitor asked why Nevada's prostitutes, if they are legal, are kept low key or hidden.

"The fundamental question is — they're citizens, they're paying taxes — so why are they second-class citizens," remarked Rocha.

Rocha, who said he faced a stigma growing up because his mother worked at a casino, said it's not fair for sex workers to be discriminated against.

"I feel very strongly that these women are human beings — that they deserve equal rights," he said.

The International Visitors Program group also met with Bob Erickson, of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, to learn about laws governing prostitution; Doug Burghardt of the Nevada Division of Health to learn about required testing; and state epidemiologist Randy Todd to learn about health implications.

Today the group will visit the Immigration and Naturalization office in Reno to learn about Nevada's handling of human trafficking.

[USA 2003] [News by region] [News by topic]

Created: January 9, 2004
Last modified: January 14, 2004
CSIS Commercial Sex Information Service
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710