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Sex toys popular in Thailand despite conservative laws

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: In Thailand, sex toys are very popular and very illegal.

While Thailand is a conservative country with conservative laws, the underground sex trade and sex toy economy is a thriving not-so-well-kept secret. Thailand is famous for its LGBTQ acceptance and red-light districts, but many don’t realise that most drugs, gambling, soliciting for prostitution, sex toys, and even vaping are against Thai law.

The customs department confiscated more than 4000 sex toys just last year, and owning or selling these toys carries a 60,000 baht fine or up to 3 years in jail. The strict laws are in place to align with the traditional Buddhist Thai society but seem very contrary to the underground sex industry Thailand is known for.

The need for sexual privacy rights and relaxed laws governing sex has been gaining popularity for years with the juxtaposition of strict laws and hedonism creating a very profitable black market. Bangkok’s red-light district is estimated to be worth US $6.4 billion, and in districts like Soi Cowboy, Nana, Patpong and Silom, sex trade and sex toys are sold openly even though it violates the law. The sex industry is thought to comprise up to 10% of Thailand’s gross domestic product. Then there’s Walking Street in Pattaya, Bangla Road in Phuket, etc, etc.

Still, Thailand is a Buddhist country with traditionally conservative values so laws are unlikely to change anytime soon. Even sex education in Thailand is geared towards the negative consequences of sex and not open to sexual rights or embracing sexuality, according to a UNICEF report in 2016. Those who oppose decriminalising sex toys and the sex industry believe that embracing it legally would lead to a rash of sex-related crimes.

Others argue that decriminalisation would be liberating and empower women by reducing the stigma of being sexually free. It would allow a modernized view on sexual well-being. It would also likely reduce teen pregnancy rates, by removing the negativity towards those who need or use contraceptive.

Nisarat Jongwisan has been fighting for the destigmatisation and legalisation of sex toys since 2018 when she appeared on a TV program speaking out against the Ministry of Culture. She now intends to use the Thai parliamentary mechanism for creating a petition and gathering 50,000 signatures, which would allow her to submit a bill to the parliament for a vote.

With strict laws, the black market will continue to grow. While sex toys and the sex trade can be criminalized, sexual desires are not easily quashed, and people will find ways to satisfy them. Without any regulation, black markets can profit freely, selling sex toys with no concern over fair pricing or quality control. The global sex toy industry sold nearly US $34 billion dollars last year, and with continued lockdown and the closures of entertainment venues, these sales are set to only increase, even in the face of Thailand’s conservative laws.

SOURCE: Vice

 

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Joe

    Friday, April 16, 2021 at 2:09 pm

    The prime minister already gets outraged when journalists sit cross legged as it is improper.

  2. Avatar

    Niko

    Friday, April 16, 2021 at 6:56 pm

    VICE off couse a “liberal” news outlet i guess, but aparently they don´t understand how sexuality is seem, in general, across asia. It is supposed to be a PRIVATE matter and not paraded on the streets!

    Also they don´t seem to understand that the Ladyboy fenomenon is NOT a lgbt acceptance wuestion either. It is just not stigmatized by the society because being born in this condition is seem as a sort punishement for bad deeds in past lives, not a “individual rights” issue

    In pattaya beach there is a rock where people put al kinds of plastic penis. Is this a sex liberation thing too? I´m sure it isn´t

    • Thaiger

      Thaiger

      Friday, April 16, 2021 at 7:03 pm

      LGBT – what does the ‘T’ stand for? Of course LGBT refers to Thailand’s khatoeys as well.

  3. Avatar

    LondonAl

    Friday, April 16, 2021 at 10:59 pm

    Niko obviously buys his dildos online for privacy purposes

  4. Avatar

    ynwaps

    Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 9:44 am

    Thailand is a Buddhist country with nobody knowing why. Going to the temple is mostly egocentric for wanting something. I’d say most wouldn’t be considered Buddhist but 🐑

  5. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 10:03 am

    I used to see wooden dildo in Pattaya bar, which were used to threaten, or hit, unruly drunks.
    Are they illegal? The dildos I mean.

  6. Avatar

    LondonAl

    Sunday, April 18, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    I’ve seen wooden dildos in bars people use to ring the bell, is that illegal?

    • Thaiger

      Thaiger

      Sunday, April 18, 2021 at 6:17 pm

      Depends what you do with them.

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Thailand. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

Tourism

‘One Night In Bangkok’, an unlikely hit about a bygone era in Thailand

Tim Newton

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“One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free”

When ‘One Night In Bangkok’ was released in 1984 it was an unlikely hit. It was the opening song from a (at the time) little-known stage pop-opera called ‘Chess’. The song made Number 1 in South Africa, West Germany, Switzerland and Australia, and Number 3 in Canada and the US. It has remained a staple of Classic 80s Hit radio ever since. Have a listen (below).

The musical was the first outing for the two ‘Bs’ in ABBA – Benny Andersson and Bjoern Ulvaeus. Their pop grooves had made ABBA one of the most famous music groups in the world between 1973 and 1982 with a string of hits including 20 singles in the Billboard Top 100 from 8 albums, etc, etc. The lyrics of the song were penned by Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Joseph and his amazing technicolour dreamcoat, Aladdin, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast).

In the opening song of ‘Chess’, the American chess champion Freddie Trumper gets ready for a chess game with his Russian counterpart. He ridicules Bangkok’s ‘pleasures’ and tourist attractions – the Chao Phraya River (“muddy old river”), Wat Pho (“reclining Buddha”), and the red-light distractions. The choruses are more complimentary about Bangkok’s well-documented excesses.

Thailand’s ladyboys feature too… “You’ll find a god in every golden cloister, And if you’re lucky then the god’s a she“. And the famous Oriental Hotel (these days a little less ‘oriental’) is mentioned where girls are “set up in the Somerset Maugham suite“. But the singer says he isn’t interested… “I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine.

At the time the sarcasm of the song didn’t go down well with the Thai Mass Communications Organisation (now the NBTC) issuing a ban on the song in 1985, saying its lyrics “cause misunderstanding about Thai society and show disrespect towards Buddhism”, a line still trotted out when Instagrammers and vloggers shoot in front of Thai temples dressed in a flimsy singlets and short shorts.

37 years later the song still paints a picture of a contrasting ‘oriental’ city alive with lights (including red lights), colour, pungent smells, culture and a vivid history.

We’re not sure if the ban was ever lifted but I hear the song played on Thai stations from time to time. At the time, when Bangkok was less on the tourist map than now, the song was a lone reference point for westerners.

How does it stand up 37 years after becoming a world-wide hit? Leave your comments below..

One Night In Bangkok

Bangkok, Oriental setting
And the city don’t know that the city is getting
The creme de la creme of the chess world
In a show with everything but Yul Brynner (referring to the actor’s starring role as the King of Siam in ‘The King and I’)

Time flies, doesn’t seem a minute
Since the Tirolean spa had the chess boys in it
All change don’t you know that when you
Play at this level there’s no ordinary venue
It’s Iceland or the Philippines or Hastings or,
Or this place!

One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free
You’ll find a god in every golden cloister
And if you’re lucky then the god’s a she
I can feel an angel sliding up to me

One town’s very like another
When your head’s down over your pieces, brother
It’s a drag, it’s a bore, it’s really such a pity
To be looking at the board, not looking at the city
Whaddya mean?
Ya seen one crowded, polluted, stinking town
Tea, girls, warm, sweet
Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham suite
Get thai’d, you’re talking to a tourist
Whose every move’s among the purest
I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can’t be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me

Siam’s gonna be the witness
To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
This grips me more than would a
Muddy old river or reclining Buddha
And thank God I’m only watching the game… controlling it

I don’t see you guys rating
The kind of mate I’m contemplating
I’d let you watch, I would invite you
But the queens we use would not excite you
So you better go back to your bars, your temples
Your massage parlours

One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free
You’ll find a god in every golden cloister
A little flesh, a little history
I can feel an angel sliding up to me

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can’t be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me

Songwriters: Tim Rice / Benny Goran Bror Andersson / Bjoern K. Ulvaeus

 

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World

Is this the next big change in pop music? The winners of the IFPI Global Recording Artist of the Year Award, BTS

Thaiger

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2020 IFPI Global Recording Artist of the Year Award. In the past 8 years the IFPI Global Recording Artist of the Year Award has been given to Ed Sheeran, Adele, One Direction, and Taylor Swift and Drake. BTS are backed up by ARMY, their huge fanbase.

The power of ARMY. The IFPI represents the recorded music industry worldwide. It’s not a Grammy or a popularity vote. The award is calculated according to an artist’s or group’s worldwide performance across digital and physical music formats during the past year. Everything from streams to vinyl, CDs and downloads…. and covers their entire body of work. The award was announced last week at the culmination of the IFPI Global Artist Chart, which counted down the top 10 best-selling artists of the past year.

And it’s certainly been a great year for music… not so much for going to live concerts but we’ve certainly had a lot more time to listen to our favourite artists and stream their clips on YouTube.

The group that won this year, based on their pure sales, actually came second in 2018 and 7th in 2019, so it isn’t some statistical blip on the music radar.

The win also represents somewhat of a quantum shift in world music… the sort of thing that only happens once in a generation. Rather than the popular cross-over style shift represented by the George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in 1924, the brith of rock with Bill Haley in 1955 or the rise of British pop in the 1960s, personified by The Beatles, this year’s IFPI signals another generational milestone in tastes, method, world reach and engagement with fans.

In all the right-hand turns of the popular music genre, there has usually been a technological breakthrough that has accompanied them, or at least been a key aspect of their success.

In the case of the the Great American Songbook, the foundations of the pop music genre, it was the recorded record and the start of radio-as-entertainment in the 1920s that provided a method to reach a huge audience with the new sounds and tunes for the first time.

Then it was the 7” single that made music cheaper and easier to play, that revolutionised the radio music formats of the 1960s and provided the perfect vehicle of the British pop revolution to spread around the world.

 

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Tourism

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Thaiger

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There was the original Covid-19 outbreak and lockdowns back in April and May in 2020, then again just before Christmas and New Year when the new clusters emerged in Samut Sakhon and the eastern coastal provinces, Patong’s nightlife was quiet enough, almost non-existent.

Now when the restrictions are lifted, Nimz will take you through Phuket’s famous nightlife spot Bangla Road, Patong Beach and Phuket Town. It’s quiet, but there are still clubs open and operating and ready to welcome you.

 

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