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2nd ID seeks to curb lap dancing at clubs

Lap dances will be banned under proposed new standards for bars near U.S. bases in Area I, such as these establishments near the main gate of Camp Casey.

SETH ROBSON / S&S

By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 27, 2004

CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — The 2nd Infantry Division wants lap dancing banned in Area I nightclubs frequented by U.S. soldiers, according to documents to be presented this week to the Korean Special Tourist Association and local mayors.

Club owners and mayors will have 30 days to respond to a proposed association and 2nd ID Good Commerce Practices Guide, which sets out standards expected of clubs near U.S. bases in Area I.

Last year lap dancing was explicitly authorized in an attachment to the 2nd ID’s 2002-2003 policy. The proposed guide states: “Though lap dancing is authorized under 2nd Infantry Division policy, it has not been defined. For the purposes of good order and discipline, lap dancing will be defined here,” and the definition integrated into conduct standards.

The proposed guide defines lap dancing as an activity that occurs “when a club dancer is approached by or offers to dance for a soldier … typically of the opposite sex. This interaction between dancer and soldier is typically done at very close quarters.”

The guide then imposes such strict rules for the practice that it effectively bans it, stating, “This type of behavior does not honor either individual involved. Since soldiers are soldiers 24/7, they are not at liberty to lower their professional bearing after hours.”

It suggests lap dancing be treated as “client-focused exotic dancing” and that club owners “prohibit any physical contact between dancers and customers” and “ban the practice of customers placing money/bills in dancers’ garments: g-strings, bras, garters or other apparel.” The guide also would “require that private dances in remote areas of the club be directly visible” to military police inspecting a club.

The man who wrote the guide, 2nd ID assistant chief of staff Lt. Col. Chris Bailey, said he researched lap dancing laws in the United States and Britain before preparing the policy.

“We are following trends in the U.S.,” Bailey said. “Lap dancing has taken on a new level of interest in the American media. It is outlawed in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.”

He said lap dancing is associated with other undesirable activity such as human trafficking, which the proposed guide also includes measures to prevent. The 2nd ID also has imposed other rules and procedures in recent years after media reports that suggested the military was doing too little to prevent human trafficking in South Korea.

The new policy also states that clubs for South Korean augmentees to the U.S. military should “not tolerate prostitution or human trafficking.”

Sgt. 1st Class Stuart Greer, of the 2nd ID’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, told soldiers gathered at Camp Red Cloud for New Horizon Day earlier this month that hundreds of thousands of women are human trafficking victims each year.

The crime often involves women duped into moving to a foreign country, then forced to become sex workers there. Greer said he learned about human trafficking after meeting his Philippine wife when she was working in a South Korean nightclub.

“When I was dating my wife, I found out her sister in Bahrain hadn’t been paid in 10 months. She was working 16 hours a day, six days a week. Through many e-mails and telephone calls we took this guy to court and he had to pay her and return her to the Philippines,” he said.

Southeast Asia is a major source of human trafficking, as is the former Soviet Union, Greer said.

“In 2002, news organizations connected trafficking with the military in South Korea,” he said. They suggested that U.S. military “courtesy patrols” were guarding establishments that engaged in human trafficking and condoned prostitution. Indicators of trafficking include money exchanged between soldiers and club employees for unexplained reasons or employees that cannot leave clubs and have no access to their passports, he said.

Greer said he is certain prostitution still happens at some clubs in Area I.

“My wife came here as a dancer. She went to dance school. The club owner said, ‘You can dance and make $500 a month or you can sit with the customers and if they buy you a drink you will make more.’ But I have heard of other people in clubs that actually engage in prostitution.

“In the club she sat next to me and talked,” he said. “The other clubs, they do lap dances.”

The Good Commerce Practices Guide will be presented at a Jan. 30 dinner to be attended by Brig. Gen. John Shortal, 2nd ID assistant division commander for support, officials said.