Sex Industry in Thailand - Tourist Guide
Thailand Sex Worship
Surprisingly only around 5% of the sex industry is accounted for by Westerners (farang) - it is quite common practice for Thai men to visit prostitutes and is believed to have been a traditional practice for men who could afford it to have mistresses or concubines. It is also believed that practise of prostitution originated from China as it is a common practice there as well. Catering for foreigners is believed to have started during the Vietnam War, when American solders on leave sampled the delights of the red-light districts near the seven military bases in Thailand. By the time the US soldiers left, tourists were flooding into Thailand to replace them, so the sex industry continued to flourish around popular tourist destinations such as Pattaya, Hua Hin and the Patpong area of Bangkok. Women work in bars with sex shows, or massage parlours and brothels. Prostitution is theoretically illegal but owners and managers of bars and brothels pay the police to turn a blind eye.
The majority of women who work in the Bangkok sex industry are from poor, rural areas in north and north-east Thailand, who come down to Bangkok to make enough money to pay off their parents' debts, or establish financial security for themselves. Many women who work in the go-go bars get paid to participate in the sex shows but if they wish to sleep with a client, they arrange this themselves with no go-between. Some women are sold to pimps by their families in desperation, and are forced to work as prostitutes until the debt is paid off. Child prostitution is a problem which the Thai government is aware of, and is trying to stamp out. There are stiff penalties for anyone caught having sex with someone under the legal age limit.
During the late 1980s, HIV and AIDs spread rapidly through Thailand's drug users and prostitutes and then to the general population. During the 1990s the government made a concerted effort to counteract this through education, monthly tests for sex workers and making it law that sex workers must use condoms. Condoms are distributed free to brothels. If condoms are used correctly, then they can be very effective in preventing the transmission of HIV and other infections. However it is harder to police casual, sex workers who are not attached to a bar or brothel. The increase of HIV has decreased dramatically but this does not change the fact that there is a substantial percentage of the population, particularly in the north, who are HIV positive. Men visiting prostitutes then passed the virus onto their families.
There are STD clinics in Thailand where people can get tested for a variety of venereal diseases including HIV. Abortion is illegal in Thailand though. It is possible to buy condoms in pharmacies but Western men complain that Thai condoms are too small so it may be advisable to take some from home.