During the 1990s, the Maldives became perhaps the first country in the world to use a 'military' tactic to invade a brothel house, when a high ranking officer of the National Security Service announced on national TV that Ni*** Mo** house in Maafannu was raided and prostitutes caught in action. Since then brothel houses are being raided with increasing frequency (though military tactics are no longer used), indicating that the business is burgeoning.
As years pass by, the business is also evolving. For example, when Ni*** Mo** brothel was in operation 10 years back, the staff as well as the clientele were all Maldivian. Nowadays both tend to be foreigners. The staff now comes from places as far as Samarkand and Shanghai.
Those arrested in the most recent raid included 3 Chinese women and a Bangladeshi man. Caught flagrante delicto in a guesthouse in H. White Stream, the quartet were 36 year old Caixia Zhuang, 38 year old Ziufang Wang and 26 year old Lihua Rao and Mahabub Aalam. The police recovered from them money and 'equipment' used for the act (whatever that meant).
Perhaps such foreigners represent the tip of the iceberg. There is reason to believe that a larger hidden component exists, involving Maldivian girls and Maldivian clients. However, it's more difficult to detect because that particular market segment operates on a different model using mobile phones and house visits. There is also a niche up-market segment that provides escorts for holidays in resorts, Colombo or Singapore.
According to the few surveys that have been conducted within the local community, the price of a unit of sex has been steadily decreasing from about 500 rufiyaa about 5 years back to about 100 rufiyaa these days (there is a price range of course). This indicates an increase in supply.
Prostitution will not disappear unless its social root causes are addressed:
- An expatriate population of 80,000 in the Maldives;
- A floating population of about 20,000 Maldivians in Male;
- Wide income disparities between poor households and the elite.