Thailand has a prostitution problem. It is of neither recent nor imported vintage. Nobody really knows quite how big the problem is or how many Thais are involved in the industry because, contrary to the impressions of many tourists, the sale of sexual services is illegal. Social scientists estimate that the number of prostitutes ranges from 500,000 to 1 million within Thailand. Tens of thousands of Thai women also work overseas as prostitutes, mostly as illegal migrant workers in Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries.
The 500,000 figure works out to be 10 percent of all Thai women aged between 15 and 25. When the large numbers of children, older women and men (the latter including transvestites and transsexuals) are considered, the estimate doesn’t seem far-fetched. After all, a well-known Thai journalist, Sopon Ongkara, a few years ago pointed out that in Bangkok there was only one neighborhood, the old royal city area, where sex was not for sale.
He was wrong, though. Continue reading