One of the perks of going abroad and studying in many schools is that I have friends from many nationalities, backgrounds and interests, the privilege to welcome them here in Thailand. Sometimes too many faces and hair colors walk through my house at once that I joke I should receive a recognition from the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Not only is it a great way to understand the multiculturalism, it is also a good way to know more about your home country.
Amongst the usual to-do-list includes Grand Palace, Elephant Riding and Jim Thompson. Then came a highly educated, wealthy and a white male friend. He wanted nothing more than having a glimpse of Thailand infamous red right district, Patpong: “If I didn’t get to see Patpong, my friends would have thought I never made it to Thailand.”
He is not alone.
Million of men – not exaggerated – travel through Thailand each year for sex, erotic pleasure and adult entertainment. The demand for sex industry is not just high but quintessential for Thai tourism.
Of course, there is no official records of how many came for paid sex in Thailand. There is no official record of how many women sacrificed their bodies, hearts and souls to be someone sex toys so that they can make ends meet. There is no official record of how many of those women suffer and die from sexual transmitted deceases brought to them by men of different colours, backgrounds and nationalities.
There is no official record of anything.
Because according to the state perspective – these women do not exist. They are illegal workers of the underworld business.
Not only are they the destination for a lot of tourists, but they are also the contribution of underground world – where officials take unofficial numbers of brides so these parlors can run their business in the open – illegally, of course.
They have no access to official state facilities that will make them parts of the citizens.
How double standard?
Being a buddhist country, sex industry is a sin. But being a hypocrite state, the Thai state has benefited significantly from the pain, suffering and death of these prostitutes.
Welcome to the land of smile.
The election is coming up. If politicians are lacking of idea of what to do with this country, perhaps it is time they take a serious look to the lives and despair of the most excluded and underserved group of the population.
On the international woman’s day, it is the time to recognize of those “hookers” who make so many men happy. It is the time to realize that despite their plight, they are a part of our society. International woman’s day is not just about CEO on Forbes. It’s about every woman live. Because everyone matters.
Prostitutes or not, I wish every woman a happy day.