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Sex worker support group pressures Thai government to decriminalise prostitution

A sex worker support group called The Empower Foundation is hoping to persuade the Thai government to decriminalise prostitution by seeking a 10,000 signature petition.  The group, based in Chiang Mai, wants penalties for selling sex removed as it says the 1960 law harbors exploitation and corruption.  Such a removal would require Thailand to withdraw the Anti-Prostitution Act which saw more than 24,000 people arrested under it by the Royal Thai Police just last year.

The coordinator for the group, Thanta Laowilawanyakul, says police only go after the sex workers and not the employers, with those found breaking the law to be branded with a criminal record that makes it hard to leave the industry as finding legal work becomes an issue. Thanta says 80 percent of the women working in the sex industry are the primary breadwinners for the entire family.

“Sex workers are lawfully registered in Germany, Amsterdam and Singapore. Why not Thailand? The answer is no, because the government thinks it will ruin the country’s reputation. Meanwhile, Germany has over 700,000 prostitutes, yet the profession is not stigmatised.”

A researcher at Thammasat University also concluded that the Anti-Prostitution Act doesn’t work due to the large scale corruption of the Thai police.  Such corruption allows prostitution to continue in the form of massage parlors, karaoke bars and clubs where such establishments can give a kickback to police and still make large profits.  Such establishments, according to a Rangsit University criminology expert, reportedly give anywhere from 200,000 – 400,000 baht in bribe money to police to keep prostitution and human trafficking alive.

The numbers of illegal sex workers are staggering as Empower estimates that the country has almost 300,000 such workers, a number that is twice that of a UN report in 2014 due to what the group attributes to a failure to take into account the migrants and underage children in the business.

Empower is hoping its petition, which gained 10,000 signatures at the September 19 anti-government protest in Bangkok, will bring awareness to the issue that has historically been ignored by the government.  A spokesman for the Social Development and Human Security Ministry women’s affairs section says that it is reviewing the law and could put amendments on the table for next year.   

SOURCE: Pattaya Mail | The Thaiger

This post was last modified on September 26, 2020 10:10 am

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  • The kickbacks are the police main source of income. Their regular salary is an allowance to the wife and kids.

  • "The numbers of illegal sex workers are staggering as Empower estimates that the country has almost 300,000 such workers"

    Only 300,000? Why is that "staggering" if, as the article and Empower claims, "Germany has over 700,000 prostitutes"?

  • I can't help being rather dubious about the automatically assumed link between prostitution and human trafficking, at least in Thailand although I'm sure it applies in other places.

    Despite the "stigma", all those I've met in the profession here are willing participants with no coercion involved or required, who simply see it as a profession of choice like any other - no more, no less.

  • Ladies, don't waste your time.
    Have a safe trip back home. It's time for you to start growing your food. Sun will be shining and rain will be falling :))
    Good Luck :))

  • Many women in Thailand do the job because it pays well in the long run.

    99% of the sex-workers working all around Thailand are from the Issan region of Thailand where it seems normal for them to do such jobs.

    In Phuket for example there are thousands of jobs they could do in hotels and shops but they do not pay as much as ripping off stupid farang tourists, many sex workers have many silly farang men sending them money each month, many farangs fall for the sex workers who believe the lies they are told and end up buying houses and land for the sex-workers who suddenly disappear with all the money.

    I have spoken to many farangs over the years where they have fallen for such girls and lost everything, it is their own fault I suppose for believing 25-year-old women could really find old men of 50 plus desirable as real partners.

    They do make me laugh though, just for being so stupid.

  • I am torn over this, on the one hand, prostitution in Thailand is an example of entrepreneurship and many women are able to secure far higher incomes than they would in normal jobs that there are already high barriers to entry for anyway; but having met these women (not as a customer), I find them to be incredibly short-term thinkers, and very few are using it as a ladder to a better life. The notion that legalising it will harm the country's reputation is laughable, the government can't control what people outside think, and the reputation is long-established already. Legalisation and routine testing and outreach and welfare support would make the government look good, but they don't seem to be particularly receptive to progressive ideas that might raise people up into the mainstream

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