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Time to rethink prostitution ban, say experts

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Time to rethink prostitution ban, say experts

By KORNRAWEE PANYASUPPAKUN 
THE NATION WEEKEND

 

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IT IS AN open secret that, despite being illegal, prostitution is widely practised in Thailand. That striking gulf between the law and reality illustrates the need to amend the laws and decriminalise the sex trade, panellists at a recent seminar said.

 

“The crime control model we use is clearly not working,” Asst Professor and researcher Mataluk Orungrot from Thammasat University said this week. Scrapping the current prostitution laws in favour of legalisation may be one answer, she told the panel.

 

Thailand’s approach to sex work is to criminalise it under the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act 1996 and Article 286 of the Criminal Code. The law forbids selling sex, pimping and running a “prostitution establishment”.

 

Yet the numbers show the approach has not worked. Estimates put the number of Thai prostitutes at anywhere between 800,000 to 2 million-plus, with many aged under 18. 

 

Moreover, prostitution establishments are flourishing in the guise of massage parlours, bath houses, beer joints, karaoke bars and nightclubs – and are sustained by corrupt law enforcement officials. 

 

According to Jomdet Trimek, a leading criminology professor at Rangsit University, venues can easily rake in up to Bt10 million per month, a fraction of which is used to bribe law enforcers against closure. The bribes start from Bt200,000 a month and can reach a startling Bt400,000 (Bt10,000 for each agency) for venues with illegal sex workers from neighbouring countries, said Jomdet, who has interviewed dozens of sex workers while researching the trade.

 

A venue’s incomes are derived from deducting a portion of the earnings of the sex workers, he said. One Myanmar professional working in Thailand told the researcher she could make Bt1,000-Bt2,000 just to “sit” with the customers, rising to as much as Bt5,000 for each sexual service. She could make an average of Bt100,000 monthly.

 

The Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act 1996 punishes the sex worker for selling sex (with a maximum fine of Bt1,000) but not the customer for purchasing sex. 

 

This, Mataluk said, may need to be changed.

 

In the Nordic or French model, selling sex is legal but buying it or running a brothel is prohibited. The sex worker is seen as a victim who should not be further victimised by the law. 

 

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The idea in this approach is to decriminalise the sex workers, while making it harder for customers to buy their services. That should reduce prostitution over the long run, Mataluk said, without further victimising the prostitute. 

 

“If we punish the customers or make buying sex illegal, we make them consider: ‘Is it worth it if I have to pay for the sex and offend the law?’ When the investment is risky, do they still want to invest?” 

 

But a sex worker told the panel that the Nordic model could be counter-productive. “Ping Pong”, a 40-year old who plied her trade in Bangkok’s bars and on the streets for 20 years, said the approach could drive prostitution further underground rather than reducing it. “I’m afraid of the quality of customers. 

 

“If buying sex were illegal, only those who are not afraid of the law – like people with criminal records – would be our customers. 

“That’s even more dangerous,” she said.

 

The researchers have also studied the approach of legalising and regulating prostitution. 

 

Here, sex workers would register with the government authorities, undergo regular medical checks for sexual transmitted diseases and may also carry a prostitution |card. 

 

They would be subject to taxation and labour laws, and contribute to and receive social security. Regulation also makes it easier to control the minimum age of those entering the trade.

 

Prostitution may also reduce marital rape, said Mataluk, a Thammasat University law professor and expert on laws governing women and children. 

 

“Many wives are forced – with or without violence – to have sex with their husbands. 

 

For women in some countries, allowing their husbands to buy sex takes that pressure away.”

 

The idea of fully legalised prostitution is hailed by Ping Pong, who says it would reduce the stigma attached to her profession. However, the sex worker believed only a few Thai prostitutes would dare to register.

 

“If someone runs for PM and people discover his mother is a prostitute, how would people react? How many women would be willing to have a record of being in that profession,” she asked. 

 

“In her own case, keeping her profession hidden allowed Ping Pong to put both of her daughters through university. 

 

“A report by German daily Welt found that less than half of the estimated 400,000 to 1 million sex workers in Germany had chosen to register despite the lure of social benefits.

 

Thailand may need to adopt a system that does not humiliate the sex worker, said Mataluk, but legalising prostitution would not be possible without a registration process.

 

“We want to protect sex workers, their customers and the society at large. 

 

“So we need to be able to regulate and check. 

 

“The humiliation factor is something sex workers have to consider before choosing this path,” she said.

 

As in Sweden, France and other countries that have legalised prostitution, the goal would be to eradicate it. But to do this, the government must also support alternative professional training for sex workers to transition out of the industry.

 

“And it is definitely not teaching them to make garlands, baskets or paper birds,” Mataluk said. It needs to be a sustainable and realistic alternative.

 

“We must move forward. If we don’t regulate it and instead let the situation continue, things will get out of control,” she said, pointing to the growing trend of Thai |teens selling their bodies as a sideline.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30353452

 

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2018-09-01

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"...Estimates put the number of Thai prostitutes at anywhere between 800,000 to 2 million-plus, with many aged under 18..." 

 

I don't have a problem with 'working girls' unless it is forced or underaged.

 

I think it would be a very good thing to at least decriminalize prostitution as it is big business in Thailand and the sex workers should not have to face penalties for undertaking their profession. How to do it? I am not sure and will leave that to the experts.

 

That said, I will make a few comments;

 

  • For those who do not want to see working girls in a country, then there must be both Educational and Economic alternatives for the girls. I doubt that many women grow up desiring to be a prossie, but many support their families. If you complain about it, then you must provide an alternative for them. Put up or shut up.
  • If you are going to punish the girls, then you should also punish the clients. I would say punish neither.

 

Working girls are a fact of life in Thailand, and MANY MANY more girls have Thais for clients than foreigners. It seems sensible to clean up the business a bit so that it is better and safer for all.

 

I sincerely hope that Thailand will take a practical approach to this rather than a failed, puritanical one...

 

 

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Inspirational thinking considering its 2018, and prostitution has been a trade practiced pretty much since the dawn of mankind.

Legalize it, ban it, hide it, or put it on every street corner. Just be crystal clear, and open about what is and isn't permissible. Whatever the authorities do in future has to be preferable to the system now where many of the raids and stings set up are outright immoral in both their scope and execution 

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12 minutes ago, Father Fintan Stack said:

That should shut the apologist numpties up.

 

:WPFflags:

I doubt it, those moralistic numb-skulls will still find something to bleat on about.   They say up to 2 million !! Jesus Christ I'll never get through them all if I live to be the same age as Methuselah.  Right got to getting going then ?

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23 minutes ago, rooster59 said:

venues can easily rake in up to Bt10 million per month, a fraction of which is used to bribe law enforcers against closure. The bribes start from Bt200,000 a month and can reach a startling Bt400,000

Clearly it will not be legalized. Think of all the missing tea-money.

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If a lady refuses money then I walk away because she has obviously been bought already... sold out.

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Leave the girls alone, if anything should happen the girls should be supported with social services & health clinics and be honored for being a major part of thailands economy & massive foreign exchange earner supporting hotels, airlines, construction & retail. The girls are the true heroes but most of them wouldn't know that.

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Girls go into the trade having been abandoned by a Thai husband with no paternity gene.  Making absent fathers pay for their offspring's education/food/childcare would cut down the supply.  The police have a vested interest in keeping this trade illegal so the law will never get past this powerful lobby,

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Can't see why registration is necessary, is it necessary for other types of worker to register their occupation?

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legalization would certainly diminish the possibility of extortion by corrupt officials.

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what about the north families that send the daughters to make money because they are poor ?? they don't ask how the daughter can make so much money....so they can bild new house, buy the car.....this is thai culture....for how long time ???

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57 minutes ago, rooster59 said:

Thailand’s approach to sex work is to criminalise it under the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act 1996 and Article 286 of the Criminal Code.

I was sure the original law was dated 1966?

Is it either a misprit, or has there been a more recent amendment to it in 1996?

 

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26 minutes ago, brewsterbudgen said:

I'm not sure how legalizing it will make any difference, unless they also legalize street soliciting, which I doubt they will. The system works pretty well at the moment despite its inconsistencies.

Sent from my SM-G930F using Thailand Forum - Thaivisa mobile app
 

Apart from anything else this proposal to legalise prostitution will not fly IMHO.   The reason I say that is because the the state sponsored mafia,  ie the RTP   make so much from extorting money from businesses in Pattaya where the ladies work,  as well as other places ,  and makes what money the working ladies make look like chicken feed.   When you have pay-offs going all the way to the top,   the top are certainly not going to stop this lucrative illegal income stream.  Would be like Turkeys voting for Xmas.

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