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Pattaya After Midnight - RAW and UNFILTERED

January was ugly in our part of Bangkok. We live near Soi Nana, off Sukhumvit Road, a famous tourist site catering for a specific sort of visitor: middle-aged western men. They come to Nana for one reason-to have sex cheaply. November to January is high season in Thailand for holidaymakers from northern nations, and the bars and pavements of Nana are packed with hundreds of people buying and selling sex. January was busier than ever this year. It took a struggle every evening to get through the ranks of skinny Thai women and the pale men in shorts picking them over. It was the tsunami, of course.

It also gave the sex workers some level of recognition for their trade and since then, many sex workers are routinely given medical checkups. However, it is widely known that these efforts were limited to more visible prostitution establishments and those dealing with foreigners. Many smaller establishments and many sex workers who work freelance were not covered by these arrangements as well as newer establishments since the urgency of the threat has passed.

This month, a Thai law lecturer called for new laws to be introduced so that prostitution can be properly regulated in Thailand. He suggested that failure to do so was, in effect, discrimination against women in Thailand given the large numbers employed in the industry.

He also reminded his audience of Section 40 of the Thai Constitution, which copperfastens the right of Thai citizens to engage in an occupation. The law lecturer pointed to the rights of Thai wives whose husbands may be infected with sexually transmitted diseases through improper regulation of the sex industry or Thai prostitutes who are ill treated at work and denied basic employment rights. He suggested that proper regulation of the sex industry would be a step forward for human rights in Thailand.

The law lecturer made some telling points.

He pointed to what is, in fact, a steady decline in prostitution in Thailand. While popular myth suggests that Thai prostitution emerged as a result of the Vietnam war, this is not true. This has now become, in fact, an anti American trope.

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Prostitution exploded in Thailand at the same time as the emancipation of slaves in Thailand and an onrush of Chinese migrant workers coming to work in the kingdom at the turn of the last century. In fact, as Dr Laowonsiri pointed out, there has been a consistent decline in prostitution in Thailand since the time of the Vietnam war which coincides with the success of the Thai government in industrializing the Thai economy and fighting poverty.

What did happen in the s was perhaps that the sex industry and prostitution become more visible to the outside world.

It certainly captured the imagination of tabloid news editors titillating the emerging middle classes in western countries and this, in turn, coincided with the dawning age of air travel. We have to find a way to adapt to the changing world. The current situation that exists in Thailand is not acceptable.

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Of course, neither does the sensational tabloid press coverage in western countries, which over the years, had taken on a grotesque ct portraying outdated stereotypes and feeding into an improper and certainly unfair picture or depiction of Thailand. Western readers and indeed our own readers, should be reminded that prostitution is far more widespread in other Asian countries than it is in Thailand.

It also needs to be noted that prostitution is legal, widespread and regulated in many European countries such as Germany, Belgium or the Netherlands. The prostitution industry in Thailand has, to some extent, being taken captive by the authorities whose duty it is to suppress it with consequently bizarre outcomes. It can be compared with the drug war except the argument for legalizing prostitution is far stronger and valid.

It would ,overnight, transform what is a very large industry into a revenue generating center for the Thai government as well as providing legal recognition and rights to hundreds of thousands of Thai women.

It could actually impinge on the lives of millions of Thai women. It could also be used, as suggested by veteran sex workers, as a way in which Thai women who want to opt out of the trade and into other areas of employment could be facilitated. It would cut the ground from under sinister criminal networks that now control some cts of the industry and assist Thai police in fighting human trafficking and the exploitation of minors.

Before we get carried away, it should noted that while experts and nearly all those who work with Thai prostitutes support the idea of legalizing the trade and while prostitution in Thai society has always been considered as somewhat acceptable as the underside of a male dominated society, there is strong opposition to any proposal to legalize it. It is part of the paradoxical nature of Thai society.

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Most conservative Thai people, while they are non judgmental and accepting of prostitutes or sex workers on a personal level, will nevertheless balk at the prospect of making the activity legal. It is a moral principle in a land where such things still matter.

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To many Thai people, prostitution is felt to be shameful and there is particular angst at the coverage and presentation of the sex trade in foreign media or even in the Thai media. Thai people are deeply sensitive to the portrayal of the country abroad.

Many Thais will not be aware that the trade is legal in countries like Germany. Against this, there is also a growing number of younger, empowered Thai woman who today have adapted liberal western attitudes which particularly reviles the notion and concept of prostitution.

It is seen as degrading to all women and something that must never be countenanced as legal or receiving the imprimatur of society.

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Last year, at another Thammasat University seminar and forum, an assistant professor also called on authorities to consider the current law prohibiting prostitution in Thailand. Mataluk Orungrot suggested that it is certainly time to consider legalizing the sex trade in the kingdom. Currently, prostitution is illegal in Thailand under the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act.

Under Article of this law, it is is illegal to sell sex, engage in the promotion of such activity or to run an establishment linked with prostitution. During the seminar last year, some interesting research was presented. It explored the different facets of the industry in Thailand from massage parlors to beer bars or from karaoke bars to baths and sauna establishments.

It was also revealed that all the establishment pay bribery or corruption payments to Thai officials including police. It should be noted that there was no proof supporting this information but it was presented to the forum in good faith as anecdotal evidence from those engaged in the industry. This is well above the pay of most Thai graduates with senior positions and even after years of experience.

Hence, the appeal of prostitution to some Thai women and why it is still, despite decades of decline, a strong industry. Of course, as the old quip goes, it is the oldest one in the world. That project has indeed proved remarkably successful with a huge surge in tourism numbers from other locations and an increase in female visitors. NGOs such as Outreach International are aware there is a market of perhaps 5 or 6 million western men who regularly visit Thailand and other Southeast European countries on holidays which are quite normal tourist excursions in their own right but which include the concept of cheap sex and sunshine in vibrant surroundings.

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In recent years, this market is slipping from Thailand but is being more than offset by a surge in arrivals from Asian countries including package tours and individual high spending tourists. In Julyshe came out strongly and denounced the concept of sex tourism to Thailand.

The remarks had a very real effect.

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They were followed by more raids on sex establishment by Thai police. Authorities later confirmed that this activity was not designed to suppress prostitution per se but was being launched to fight human trafficking. The message from Thai police is that authorities were determined to arrest anyone involved in human trafficking or exposing underage girls to the prostitution trade.

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There are some, more feminist minded, advocates or even some working with NGOs in Thailand who are suggesting that Thailand adopts the Nordic model in relation to prostitution. This legalizes the activity for sex workers and penalizes those paying for sex. This is very unlikely to happen for the simple reason that it would wipe out the prostitution industry in Thailand overnight.

The vast majority of the 5 to 6 million western men as well as Thai men would not breach such a law both in Thailand or their home countries. The introduction of such a law in Sweden for instance, immediately boosted the regular flight of men from that country to Thailand or other Southeast Asian countries when it came into force in It is also reported that prosecutions under the law in countries where such a regime is currently in play, are provoking public derision and calls for repeal.

Mataluk Orungrot from Thammasat University has researched Thai prostitutes working in the industry. He has warned against this option. It would become a more dangerous, fringe activity frequented by more criminally minded individuals. The Thammasat University assistant professor appeared to advocate the sort of prostitution regime we see in Germany where sex workers are registered, pay taxes, have health checkups and have employment rights. Even so, many sex workers in Germany choose not to register as they fear the stigma attached to their trade when dealing with government officials.

This may be somewhat different in Thailand. Mr Mataluk points to another key benefit of legalized prostitution which is the protection of women against rape including married women from marital rape. This probably exists already as prostitution in Thailand while de jure being illegal, is in fact, de facto, legal and widespread. Prostitution was made specifically illegal in Thailand in following representations from the United Nations.

In spite of the law however, Thai authorities always attempted to monitor and regulate the industry. Inthe law was repealed and a new legal provision put in its place with a more far reaching scope.

The law left it open for the operators of establishments to operate a prostitution business without much fear of criminal sanction.

Aug 01,   THAILAND'S sex industry is under fire after the country's first female tourism minister vowed to shut down the country's many brothels and go-go bars. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul want. You are told that each year many Thai women are sold into the sex trade in Japan, that they arrive thinking they are going to work as nannies or waitresses and find themselves saddled with "debts" of $25, and forced to work them off by yakuza gangsters in brothels known as "black jails.".

The Thai Ministry of Justice is reported to have looked at a regime of regulation and control. However the move stalled. In fact, prostitution while abhorred by conservative Thais, is very much accepted in Thailand. Under conventional Thai wisdom and culture, men are generally seen to have a stronger sex drive than women. This is why Thailand has a very vibrant culture where men have second or multiple wives outside the law but accepted in society due to the influence of traditional culture.

It is considered acceptable for many Thai men to visit prostitutes even younger men. Many worldly Thai people see it as a better course of action than promiscuous behavior with a young Thai woman of good standing.

Prostitution has existed in Thailand since ancient times. Of course, times are changing and there are many also in Thailand, conservative and old fashioned in alliance with liberal feminists who would wish to see the industry completely suppressed, just as well.

The sex trade in Thailand is appalling. It is so blatant, so in your face. It passes itself off as normal when in fact everything about it is sick and degrading. Here is how it typically works: A young Thai girl is pressured to earn money to support her family. Jun 28,   Pattaya has long been thought to be a key center of the sex trade in Thailand. Bangkok is, by far, the biggest. It should be noted that Thailand's huge prostitution industry primarily caters for Thai men and not foreign visitors. Therefore, every city and town in Thailand has a . Jun 13,   Thailand has more than , sex workers, according to a UNAIDS report. Of these, at least 40 percent are under 18, and a significant number are boys, according to rights groups.

The acceptance of the prostitution industry in Thailand, in the past and up to today, is exemplified by a man, known to be a prostitution industry overlord in Bangkok. Chuwit Kamolvisit, who was recently released from prison, once told the media and press that he was more proud to call himself a pimp than a politician. The colorful character ran for Governor of Bangkok in He has long claimed to have bribed many officials, including Thai politicians and police, to ensure the smooth running of his once huge prostitution empire.

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There should be no problem as long as the politician causes no trouble to his family or society. This, combined with a loss of trade from western foreigners, has left some prostitution establishments on edge.

She's expected to service three clients a day. It's become a a multi-billion dollar business. Two million people work in the Thai sex trade. If slavery was the justice issue of years ago, then this is the issue of our times, and some of you need to be involved.

AIM is looking for long-term workers to go and fight against it email me if you're interested. Jessica Johnsonone of our World Racers took a walk through the bars and back roads of Phuket. Here's what she saw. Add Your comments: Any inappropriate comments may be removed. Use this form only to comment on the article that you just read. If you have a question, please click here to use the contact form instead.

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