Today condoms and ticklers old on the streets of Yangon. When drying underwear, do it in a discreet place and don’t hang it so it is head level or above as it is regarded as dirty and uncouth for part of the lower body to be higher than the head.
But the guesthouse owner didn’t turn a hair—and it soon became apparent why.
To my alarm, he invited them in, sat them down and, after some pleasantries, he handed them a large envelope, clearly containing money. “Don’t worry, they’re my friends,” the guesthouse owner assured me.
The group's website explains: The Burma military regime is not only brutal but very superstitious.
They believe that contact with a woman's panties or sarong can rob them of their power.
* There are many risks “that haunt these young women. Although the 20 or so sex workers I talked to all said they asked clients to use condoms, one 27-year-old from Hlaing Tharyar Township conceded that sometimes they consented to unprotected sex.
They are a vulnerable target for drunks and other men on the prowl in Rangoon’s ill-lit streets. Market pressures limit a Rangoon sex worker’s influence over her clients.
“You have to obtain all kinds of documents from the police and local authorities.” Once licensed, a guesthouse owner still has to nurture good relations with the neighborhood police, paying annual “levies” ranging from 300,000 kyat (0) to 1 million kyat (0).
The money buys advanced warnings from the local police if a raid is planned by superior officers. Guesthouses used by outside sex workers can earn up to 700,000 kyat (0) a day by renting out its rooms, while an establishment employing its own women can make more than 1 million kyat (0), sources told me.
Virginity has traditionally been greatly prized in modest Burma-Myanmar. If you have some laundry done at a guesthouse, some people make take offense to washing your under garments.
A 1997 English language tourist brochure referred to Burma as "The Land of Virgins and the Restful Nights" and said its "trademark" virgins are famous for their "clear skin." But things are changing "Traditionally there was a big value on virginity," one magazine editor told the Los Angeles Times. Parents can't control their kids so strictly anymore." Condoms were banned until 1993. If you wash them yourself do so in a bucket, don’t do it in the sink.
* “The protection bought for the young women working in these places isn’t available, however, to the street walkers at Bogyoke market, the city’s bus stations and other public places.