Where are Thailand’s bar girls? Up to a million people out of work | VIDEO


We know about the challenges in Thailand’s hotel industry. We know about the grounded planes and the problems with aviation. We know about the vendors and the tour company employees who have survived on a steady flow of tourists for decades.

But there is another hidden victim of the lockdowns and border closures, an industry which is the largest contributor to Thailand’s underground economy – the sex industry.

On one level Thailand’s walking streets look bright and glossy with the flashing neon signs and the leggy ladies hanging around the front of their establishments luring in the passersby. It’s all a big game.

Whilst prostitution is not strictly illegal in Thailand, soliciting sex is. But a billion baht industry has thrived in the past with a nod and a wink from local officials whilst an elaborate network of human trafficking, drugs and exploitation of young ladies, and men, thrived.

Everyone knows what’s going on, from the bar owners, local police, landlords and, of course, the hundreds of thousands of workers in this intricate game.

But the industry is also largely unregulated with the word ‘freelance’ much more likely than ‘employee’.

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