Does Thailand Have A Prostitution Problem?

Does Thailand have a prostitution problem?

At one time in the past, Thailand was world renowned for being the pioneer of red light districts and sex tourism. Pop culture reinforced these stereotypes of Thailand by showcasing humiliating caricatures of lonely white ex pats looking for love in southeast Asia. 

Photo: Pattaya Update News

Thailand’s dignity has since been restored and this dated stereotype is old news. On June 7th, it has been reported that police and military personnel recently inspected the so called hub of sex trafficking that is Pattaya’s Walking Street. If there is any place you’d expect to find prostitution, it’s this area. Fortunately, the police reported that there was no sign of prostitution or human trafficking in the area. 

Locals and expats received the good news with a skeptical sigh of relief. Despite no clear change in policy, the illegal sex trade once commonplace in Thailand had been decimated. Pattaya would return to being a family friendly destination that reflected the virtues of Thai people.

Photo: The Thaiger

However, another recent story from the same area presented conflicting information.  On June 25th, another report stated that a bar close to Walking Street in the same town of Pattaya was charged with “human trafficking, prostitution, and the procurement of women for underage sex.” The bar was located on Soi 6, which is home to various ‘girly bar’ establishments. 

The online responses were predictable. Many people scoffed at the idea that this particular bar was the only one in the area guilty of such illegal activities. Others hypothesized that the only reason that the bar got in trouble was because they hadn’t paid off their expected ‘tea money’ (bribe).

While it’s unclear whether or not this is an isolated incident, it’s safe to say that the dissolution of Thailand’s sex trade is not going to be as quick or as simple as we would hope. Unless Thailand makes the progressive decision to legalize prostitution, there will always be a criminal element of people who will continue to skirt the law and make money off of the backs of innocent women.