Originally published in Thai on the101.world Story and photo by Varuth Pongsapipatt Translated by Prachatai English
"...Each of us knows where the lines are drawn, where we cannot step over, where we can move the line a little, and where we can cross without care. It is only the journey of life in which each draws their own legal, health, traditional, community and social lines, even when facing God."
Open Letter to Lift International (NVADER) Re: Incident of violence against women and girls by foreign anti-trafficking NGO Lift International (NVADER)To: Lift International
Though no Thai government has ever conducted a formal survey, UNAIDS estimated in 2014 that some 123,530 sex workers operated in Thailand, with the sex industry contributing 10 per cent of the revenue that the country generates from tourism. Another study in 2003 estimated that Thailand’s sex industry generates an annual US$4.3 billion dollars. While the sex industry is evidently a pillar of the country’s economy and touches the lives of a great number of people, sex work remains outlawed in Thailand.
Human rights advocates have called for the prosecution of police officers, public servants, and others accused of buying sex from underage prostitutes in northern Thailand. On 16 November 2017, Ticha na Nakorn, the director of Baan Kanjanapisek Juvenile Vocational Training Centre, Supensri Pungkoksung, Director of the Gender Equality Promotion Centre and the One Stop Crisis Centre, and representatives of other human rights advocacy groups submitted a letter to Khemchai Chutiwongse, the new Attorney General.
Avoiding colonization by Europe simply meant that we colonized our own people. This internal colonialism, in which officials appointed from the metropolis rule and drain the countryside like conquered provinces, has led to obvious differences among the Thai. (Gen. Saiyut Koetphon, former head of Internal Security Operations Command, 1976.)
A civil society group for sex workers is urging the Thai authorities and media to stop discriminating against sex workers, saying although the sex industry contributes substantially to the Thai economy, sex workers suffer stigma and a lack of protection.
At the mention of the Thai sex industry, sexpats may start spouting off about their expertise in establishments at Soi Cowboy, Nana, Patpong, and Pattaya. Much less-publicized, however, is the local sex industry catering to Thais. Services offered at the so-called bathing-sauna-massage parlours are different from those for foreign tourists.
In an attempt to ‘cleanse’ the streets of Bangkok, police have arrested more than 100 sex workers in four neighbourhoods. Pol Lt Gen Sriwara Ransibrahmanakul said at a press briefing on Friday that 104 people had been arrested and accused of soliciting people to buy sex, which disturbed local residents and pedestrians. The 104 people arrested were caught in four areas; 35 in Wongwian 22 and Hua Lamphong 22 between Khlong Lod and Sanam Luang 25 at Makkasan train station, Wongwian Yai, Siam, and Rama II road<
An art exhibition at the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Centre illustrates the stigma and plight commonly faced by sex workers in ASEAN countries.