Thursday, April 29, 2010

Oldest Profession on Earth

These past two days I have been busy running my International Maritime Law Conference at a hotel in Orchard area. It was not a one big crowd as everyone must have had expected, but the Conference itself was considered quite successful considering that not so much dramas were involved. One of my speakers from Australia told me yesterday that I should be pleased with the result despite the turn outs. "Indeed...", I said to myself.

This morning, I purposely attended the first presentation that one of the speakers presented. Since most of the speakers for this conference were lawyers who, of course delivered some pretty boring legal papers, I just thought of that I should not miss a presentation delivered by a physician. The very first presentation this morning was delivered by a doctor who specifically serves the maritime industry and is based in the Philippines.

He talked a lot about health and safety for seafarers and some legal implications pertaining to seafarer's health. At some point, he touched many possible diseases that seafarers could suffered onshore and offshore. They range from common genetic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension to physiological disease such as post-piracy attacks traumas and more extreme infections, such as HIV and AIDS. All these diseases could make seafarers depatriated or their seafaring licenses could be detained and business wise, these issues could legally be quite problematic to the employers.


At the end of his session, there was a question asked by a very senior lawyer from Indonesia. "Doctor, I understand that seafaring is the second oldest job in the world". The floor broke into laughter.

"Oh, I think I know what the number one is", the Doctor replied.

"Well, I am not sure which one is actually the oldest profession in this world, but you know, they might be clients to each other back then... "

More people laughed.

"So, Doctor, what is your view on this? What is your advice?", he asked.

"I think all these seafarers need more education about this issue. They think condoms are safe for them, but they should know too that condoms have expiration dates. Even kissing can spread the virus. So, you better be careful with whom you kiss with. But the best advice I could give to them is to always keep it between your legs. Which means abstinence!"

All the audience gave a round loud applause for him.

I personally really enjoyed his presentation as it was not legally dry like some of the others. I found it interesting to understand how health issues are to some extent neglected in certain profession and to know the daily challenges that he faces as a doctor. He also mentioned that people in general, especially Asians, would only seek doctor when they have daunting experience with their bodies. By then, it would be too late to cure. In this age, people also often blame their health problems to stress, stress and stress, which is hard to justify, and they tend to forget to pay attention to their lifestyles.

After going through two-day eye opening sessions with all my speakers, I have now realized that there are other professions which really bet on life out there. What we do now for living may not be that bad compared to theirs. I now also understand on how physically and emotionally demanding a seafarer's life is when he is onshore. And when they are offshore, they are apparently also posed to other obvious threats, which may damage their future life too.

Yes, most seafarers can't runaway from incorporating alcohols and prostitution into their lifestyles.

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