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Cosmopolitan Sex WorkersWomen and Migration in a Global City$
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Christine B.N. Chin

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199890910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199890910.001.0001

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“We Sell Services; We Do Not Sell People”

“We Sell Services; We Do Not Sell People”

Case Study of “Syndicate X” in KL

Chapter:
(p.120) Chapter 5 “We Sell Services; We Do Not Sell People”
Source:
Cosmopolitan Sex Workers
Author(s):

Christine B. N. Chin

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199890910.003.0005

Chapter Five examines ‘Syndicate X’ (pseudonym), its historical origins, organization structure and operations. This syndicate is one of the largest groups specializing exclusively in non-trafficked transnational migrant women sex workers. The syndicate and its counterparts are anchors in KL’s migration-ancillary industry for sex work (e.g., ancillary partners such as money changers or hawala, and alliances with overseas syndicates). This chapter discusses why and how Syndicate X morphed from a hierarchical Chinese triad or secret society controlling on-street Malaysian women sex workers, to a more horizontal corporate-like enterprise specializing in up-market sexual services performed by transnational migrant women (especially those on the ‘Asian Circuit’ of sex work). Syndicate X brings in women of different nationalities and provides them with board and lodging, personal security and men clientele in exchange for monthly board and lodging fees and taxes on women’s incomes. Shaped by KL’s history of race relations, the racialisation of Syndicate X and migrant women also is examined in this chapter.

Keywords:   Migration-ancillary industry, Syndicate organizational structure, Triad, Secret society, Money changer, Overseas syndicates, Transnational alliances, Asian circuit of sex work, Hawala

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