Prostitution in Thailand
There are at least three myths that surround prostitution in Thailand. The first is that prostitutes in Thailand are Thai nationals. In reality, globalization has hit many industries in Thailand and elsewhere. Reports indicate that an international array of beautiful and not so beautiful bodies are for sale that include representatives from Eastern Europe, Africa and other South East Asian countries. The second myth is that all partakers are male. In reality, there are rentboys for male and female clientele. There are even some women who prefer and support rentgirls instead of boys. And the final myth: Prostitution in Thailand is legal.
Thailand does, in reality, have rather strict laws concerning prostitution and the sex trade, despite its reputation as a place for life on the edge. In fact there are numerous sex laws in Thailand in place.
Canada’s Recent Ruling on Legalizing Prostitution
On September 28th, 2010, an Ontario Superior Court Judge struck down Canada’s prostitution laws on the basis that these laws forced women to into greater danger by having to conduct their activities in secret and often dangerous situations. Specifically, the ruling “decriminalizes solicitation, keeping a bawdy house and living off the avails of prostitution, components of the Canadian Criminal code”, according to an article in The Vancouver Sun Prostitution itself has long been legal in Canada, but the new prostitution ruling in Canada is stirring considerable debate as this will allow brothels and sex workers to openly conduct business in the streets of Canada.
The Legal Status of Prostitution in the Netherlands and Sweden
Due to Sweden’s Sex Purchase Act of 1999, it is illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them. This idea was born out of the concept that prostitution was a form of male violence and oppression against women, and therefore should be penalized and dealt with in a more aggressive manner. This law is in large part due to the history of the feminist movement in Sweden, and the debate over gender equality.
In the Netherlands, on the other hand, prostitution is legal and regulated, including the operation of a brothel. Just as Bangkok has its notorious Patpong and Soi Cowboy districts, the Netherland’s Amsterdam has its famous De Wallen red light district. Prostitution in the Netherlands has been legalized since 2000, and in a survey conducted in 1997, 74% of Dutch citizens said prostitution was an “acceptable” job.
The Future of Legal Acts Regarding Prostitution in Thailand
Even though countries like the Netherlands, Sweden, and Canada seem to have taken a liberal standpoint on the highly debated issue of prostitution, does this mean Thailand can or should follow the mold? As a hotspot on the international sex tourism map, it seems plausible that this could be a reasonable solution for Thailand. However, due to the cultural chasm between that of a Northern American country like Canada, and European countries like Sweden and Denmark, could a similar legalization effort really cause any change in the entrenchment of prostitution “norms” generally accepted in Thailand? Non-profit groups like EMPOWER Thailand currently fight for the rights of sex workers in Thailand. EMPOWER is run and maintained by an all female staff.