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Thai artist uses sex workers’ hair to make social critique in BKK installation

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Thai artist uses sex workers’ hair to make social critique in BKK installation | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Vivianne Chow

Thai artist, Imahathai Suwatthanasilp new work at the Bangkok Biennale has brought attention to the prostitution industry in Thailand. Through her work the artist critiques preconceptions on sex workers while highlight their prevalence.

Imahathai’s new work involved hair, specifically hair collected from a number of sex workers in Thailand. Her passion for hair started when her father was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2003 and he asked her to cut his hair. He had always grown his hair into four long ponytails, each of which represented one of his children. He had hoped that it could be a part of him his children could keep with him if ever he would have to leave them, he died in 2008.

Studying art at Silapakorn University she began to use her own hair as a medium for deeply personal artworks. Her new installation titled Good Girls Go to Heaven, Bad Girls Go Everywhere is currently on display at the Biennale (taking place until February 3 in 20 venues across Bangkok) involves weaving the hair of Thai sex workers around 174 parts of a vintage sewing machine.

With a population of 70 million, it is estimated that there are around 800,000 to 2 million sex workers in Thailand. Often perceived to be generally accepted, prostitution remains illegal in Thailand.

Under a 1996 Thai law, there is no offence for the customer but the sex worker can be fined for offering his or her services and on top of that receive up to a month in jail for working at a sex establishment.

Recent government discussion are moving to the notion of abolishing or regulating the business creating protective measure for the work force rather than current punitive ones. Sex workers have shared their opinion and agree that the trade should be legalised and the government should create worker ID’s so they can be identified and protected like other occupations.

For her current art work Suwatthanasilp reached out to the Empower Foundation in Chiang Mai. They provide support for those who work in the sex industry, fight for the decriminalisation and offer protection to the workers while helping them to learn new skills.

The sewing machines were part of one initiative to help provide an alternative source of income for the sex workers. People were kind enough to donate sewing machines but the organization notes they always came with a label of expected ‘salvation’.

Prostitution is deemed as a bad career choice, and all sex workers are under pressure to work in a ‘acceptable’ job. Suwatthanasilp’s works has the hair of the workers shaped into leaves, grass and flowers around the sewing machine parts portraying the birth of something beautiful, delicate and intricate being able to born out of cold metal.

Thai artist uses sex workers' hair to make social critique in BKK installation | News by The Thaiger

“By changing the shape of the lifeless sewing machine parts into new and lifelike objects… I want to tell people that life is able to grow out of something cold, just like how sex workers survive the judgement of the society and social structure,” – Suwatthanasilp

Very few of the machines were used for their expected purpose, as many of the women had chosen to work in this dark industry as a means to provide for their family. One woman know by the artist said that she worked her whole life in the sex trade as it was the only way to put her kids through university.

Regardless of the negative connotations attached to their job description, many of these women love their families and will do the necessary to provide for them.

In some countries with legal prostitution social benefits have shown that incidents of rape have decrease due to the availability of the service, as well as lower the spreading rate of various sexually transmitted diseases. Keeping prostitution illegal is often pitched as a act for women, yes it only detrimental to an huge pre-existing industry.

Decriminalisation can provide measures of precaution for the worksas well as access to legal protections although many advocated will say that only once prostitution has been completely erased will women be ‘saved’ form the exploitation and violence associated with it.

From an outsiders point of view, the conundrum stems by the juxtaposition of allowing the industry to flourish and exist in Thailand while not being willing to provide any form of legal safety net for the workers. Whether regulations and and a new approach by authorities would help remains to be seen, but it could be a first small step in the right direction.

SOURCE: Time, Quartz

 

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Bangkok

Royal Barge Procession on Bangkok’s Chao Phraya postponed to December 12

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Royal Barge Procession on Bangkok’s Chao Phraya postponed to December 12 | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: AFP

His Majesty the King has ordered the Royal Barge Procession to be postponed to December 12, originally scheduled for October 24, as recommended by the organising committee chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngarm told Parliament yesterday about the official postponement.

After ten rehearsals and one dress rehearsal, he said the organising committee agreed that, if the procession were to proceed on October 24, the water conditions in the Chao Phraya River, currents and weather conditions would not be optimal. The committee then reported its concerns to HM the King, who subsequently agreed that the event be postponed until December 12, the beginning of the winter in Bangkok and the most settled weather of the year, according to Thai PBS World.

The committee will meet again on October 21 and a formal announcement will be made about the new schedule, said Wissanu, adding that December would be perfect timing for the event as there will be little chance of rain.

The Royal Barge Procession is the official finale of the King’s Coronation ceremony held in May this year. Their Majesties the King and Queen will ride on one of the 52 barges in the procession.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

Here’s an example of what it will look like…

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Bangkok

BTS thief and credit card skimmers arrested in Bangkok

May Taylor

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BTS thief and credit card skimmers arrested in Bangkok | The Thaiger

Tourist police in Bangkok have arrested a thief accused of pick-pocketing tourists on the city’s BTS Skytrain, along with an Indonesian couple charged with credit card fraud and card skimming.

Kasem Masan Jantaro, a 44 year old food vendor in the Huay Kwang market, says he started pick-pocketing when business became too slow for him to adequately support his family. The Skytrain security team alerted the police after several reports of tourists being pick-pocketed on the trains. Victims described the thief as middle-aged, with pale skin.

Kasem was arrested while trying to flee the scene at the Asok BTS station on Wednesday and was found to have 4,600 baht in cash and four stolen credit cards in his possession. Thai Residents reports that Kasem was previously prosecuted for drugs offences in 2015 and for robbery in 2016.

In a separate arrest, Bangkok police detained 32 year old Alexander Eddilias and 33 year old Estie Rusdiana, an Indonesian couple charged with being in possession of fake credit cards, stolen credit cards, and skimming devices used to steal credit card information.

The arrest comes after several banks notified police of transactions made using fake cards and the couple were tracked to a room in the Pratunam area of Bangkok. Officers also seized a computer, a skimming device, twenty two fake credit cards, two stolen credit cards, and twenty four credit card receipts.

The suspects say they bought the information on the Dark Web. The information was then recorded in the magnetic strip of the fake cards, which were used to make purchases worth approximately 2 million baht.

SOURCE: Thai Residents

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ASEAN

Bangkok and Nonthaburi to get 2 extra holidays during ASEAN summit

May Taylor

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Bangkok and Nonthaburi to get 2 extra holidays during ASEAN summit | The Thaiger

November 4 and 5 have been approved as official holidays for Bangkok and Nonthaburi as a result of the 35th Asean Summit and Related Summits being held at Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani in Bangkok.

Deputy government spokeswoman Traisulee Traisoranakul confirmed yesterday that the measure was being taken in an effort to alleviate traffic problems in both areas during the summit, adding that other state enterprises and the Bank of Thailand could implement the holidays for their subsidiaries at their own discretion and on a case-by-case basis.

“Government agencies in Bangkok and Nonthaburi will stop working on these dates. Meanwhile, state enterprises and the Bank of Thailand will consider announcing November 4 and 5 as holidays for their subsidiaries on case-by-case basis.”

“However, government agencies which have a necessity to provide urgent or previously scheduled services to their clients that cannot be postponed may stay open on November 4 and 5, depending on the decision by the heads of these departments.”

Some other public or regional holidays coming up…

Bangkok and Nonthaburi to get 2 extra holidays during ASEAN summit | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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