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In Thailand, sixty-eight percent of the 64. 6 million population lived in rural areas, and about thirty-nine percent work in agriculture, fishery and forestry. Cholthira Satyawadhna (2005) observed that Thai women are generally confined to agriculture and trade. In rural areas, women are considered breadwinners and must provide for the family, an offshoot of the Animism belief system, which predates Buddhism and Islam in the country, that postulates households should be inherited and run by women. In this regard, women disregard Sex Tourism 8 education in order to earn money.

Some go to the more urbanised areas lured by promises of higher income and better lifestyles. Devoid of any marketable skills, these women have only once choice for earning high: prostitution. Journalist Justin Hall (1994) highlights in a paper that the complacent and tolerant attitude towards prostitution in Thailand springs from the view that sex workers are sources of national revenue, just like any other kind of crop. Hall related that during orientation sessions, prostitutes are told to take pride in their work because they contribute a lot to their country’s tourism industry.


Part of their income is sent home to support their families. Thai prostitutes have to bear physical sufferings and humiliations in varying degrees. Those that are free to roam the streets generally suffer less that those who are kept in brothels against their wills. Majority, if not all, of these prostitutes are on drugs in order to keep servicing many men in one night. Without drugs, their bodies would surrender due to fatigue. A young prostitute quoted by Hall explained that without a shot of heroin, she wouldn’t be able to keep her body in a working condition.

Despite the hardships, some sex workers continue what they do because of the money they earn, the amount of which are often greater than what they can earn working in factories. Increased consumerism in the society contributes to this desire to have more earning power. Although women embrace commercial sex trade with open eyes, some were lured into it through deceitful means. Trafficking by organised gangs of women and children in Thailand is a serious problem. As of July 2007, the Library of Congress estimates that about 300,000 men, women, and children engaged in the country’s sex industry.

A report prepared by Asia Watch, a nongovernmental organization, on the plight of trafficked women revealed that sex workers in Sex Tourism 9 Thailand are not just coming from the rural areas. Often, they are young girls from neighbouring countries like Burma and Laos, who were recruited to do legitimate work. Once out of their relatives’ reach, these people are forced to have sex with paying customers. If they refuse or try to escape, they’d receive physical punishment, according to a young woman rescued by Asia Watch from a whorehouse in Bangkok.

With increasing pressure from the international community, the Thai government has stepped up its efforts to combat trafficking of young women and children. In 2006, a new bill was proposed that would aid law enforcers to deal more effectively with trafficking gangs. Another preventive measure that the government has taken is by increasing its cooperation with nongovernmental organisations. In particular, the International Organization for Migration ink an accord with Thai authorities to provide training and information campaign in the country to help combat human trafficking.

Attractions of Thai Sex Trade Thai sex workers are often described as exotic and docile. Hall quoted a tour operator in Switzerland who described Thai women as experts in the art of making love. But what really attracts sex tourists to Thailand? In a series of interviews conducted by sociologist Davidson and Taylor (1994), they were able to identify the three main attractions of Thailand’s sex industry. First, price of commercial sex in Thailand is minimal, while the choice of sex providers is immense.

Because of the buying power of the Western currencies, a working class British man can live like a king in Bangkok, a luxury he can never afford at home. More importantly, sex tourists believe that they have access to a better class of whores because of their money. Sex Tourism 10 Second, the nature and terms of the trade in the country are more relaxed compared with that in any European country. What tourists can do to prostitutes and for how long are open to interpretation. In some cases, women are expected to render non-sexual services like providing companionship and acting as interpreters.

Some women also do cleaning services for the client, the terms of the agreement are often varied and don’t follow certain rules and limitations. Third, In Thailand’s sex tourist trade, British men found a means to affirm their masculine identity in a sexualised sort of way. The role of money is again at the bottom line in this respect. Since tourists have more buying power in Thailand, they get more control of the material world. What they can’t afford at home, they can have in Thailand at their fingertips in an instance, like beautiful and young women that they can only dream of having in their countries.

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