Not too long ago I had the priviledge of going to the Dominican Republic and spend time with the locals. During my time there, I was overwhelmed by the difference in culture. In fact, by day 3, culture shock had completely set in and I spent the morning in tears. I have lived in Japan and my experience with culture shock there was not as intense as it was during my trip here, which surprised me. One of the things that stood out to me was the noticeable lack of female tourists (in this particular town) and the acceptance of prostitution.
In this town, the Italians and the Germans have notorious reputations for seeking out mistresses and young girls...There is also a male prostitution presence of which I was not really cognizant. My heart went out to the female population...for me, it was heartbreaking to see this side of humanity that I have been so sheltered from in the past. Then again, it is exactly what I needed to see. (There goes another bubble... *POP*)
Prostitution is a way of life. And the damnedest thing is that there is little or no desire to change this way of life. It makes money...good money. For me, I am wondering why the men of the country are not defending their women (and children), protecting them from horny foreigners...Why do they allow this?
I didn't get the answer while I was there. But what I did come to understand better was that the men and women in this community DO look out for each other in their own way. It is just not necessarily the way I would go about things, but then again...I have a lot to learn before I could criticize their way of doing things. I may not agree with prostitution, and especially having foreigners exploiting a people such as these, but I also do not know what it is like to have no other means to feed my family but to sell my body.
My visit there was a good one overall, a different one, but a good one. Good in the sense that my eyes were opened to reality...everyday life on the side of poverty - just plain real. Heartbreakingly real.